Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type


Program or Major

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Kathryn J Greenslade

Second Advisor

Amy E Ramage

Third Advisor

Elise K Elbourn


Introduction: Difficulties with narrative discourse, executive functions, declarative memory, and pragmatic function are pervasive in adults with TBI. As narrative discourse (e.g., storytelling) plays a significant role in social contexts, these difficulties have broad reaching impacts on everyday interactions. Existing research in adults with TBI does not address cognitive correlates of story length, completeness, or elaboration within a story grammar framework, which is a structure for organizing the content of stories. A better understanding of these relationships will allow for more effective evaluation and treatment for this population. Methods: Transcripts from Cinderella stories of 48 participants with severe TBI were analyzed using a story grammar framework. Relationships between narrative measures (length, completeness, and elaboration) and deficits in executive function, declarative memory, and pragmatic function at 6- and 12-months post-injury were explored. Results: At 6- and 12-months, most narrative measures showed weak to strong correlations with executive functions and declarative memory. Narrative measures less consistently showed weak to moderate correlations with pragmatic function at 6-months, but no correlations with pragmatic function observed at 12-months. Discussion: Executive function and declarative memory measures appear related to the ability to organize, elaborate, and share more content when telling stories. Measures of pragmatic function likely captured a broader picture of social communication than the narrative measures examined in the present study, explaining the frequent lack of observed relationships. Together these findings can help us better understand narrative language deficits post-TBI, and better plan assessments and treatments of functional communication.