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      The generation of visual inferences in normal elderly- Influence of schooling and visual complexity Translated title: A geração de inferências visuais em idosos normais- influência da escolaridade e complexidade visual

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          The generation of inferences makes the construction and comprehension of discourse easier, and integrates representations which add coherence to the arguments. Visuoperceptual and inferential deficits merge in the attempt to explain the difficulties that some individuals have in the comprehension of certain kinds of visual stimuli.


          • a) To examine the performance of cognitively healthy elderly subjects in the execution of visual inferences using pictures of different levels of complexity;

          • b) To compare the performance of subjects according to schooling level.


          A total of 45 normal elderly aged from 61 to 82yrs (M=68; SD=0.57) were examined. The subjects were divided into three groups according to schooling level: Group 1 (1 to 4 years); Group 2 (5 to 8 years) and Group 3 (9 or more years). Each subject had to create a narrative based on four figures with controlled visual complexity. The narratives were transcribed, analysed and scored.


          For the essential inferences, the high educated group (3) had a better performance in both visually simple and complex conditions. On the visually complex figures, the medium educated group (2) was statistically equivalent to the high educated group for one figure and equivalent to the less educated group (1) for the other. There was no difference among the groups for the accessory propositions.


          Visual complexity interferes with the subject’s ability to make inferences in low and medium educated individuals. High educated subjects maintain the same performance in making inferences, regardless of the visual complexity level.

          Translated abstract

          A geração de inferências facilita a construção e a compreensão do discurso, e integra representações que dão maior coerência aos argumentos. Os déficits visuoperceptuais e inferenciais confundem-se na tentativa de explicar as dificuldades de alguns indivíduos em compreender alguns tipos de estímulos visuais.


          • a) Investigar o desempenho de indivíduos idosos normais, na realização de inferências visuais, a partir de figuras de diferentes graus de complexidade visual;

          • b) Comparar o desempenho dos sujeitos de acordo com os níveis de escolaridade.


          Foram examinados 45 idosos normais com idades entre 61 e 82 anos (M=68; DP=0.57). Constituiu-se 3 grupos segundo nível de escolaridade: grupo 1 (de 1 a 4 anos); grupo 2 (de 5 a 8 anos) e grupo 3 (9 ou mais anos). A cada indivíduo foram apresentadas 4 figuras, com graus de complexidade visuoespacial controlados para elaboração de discurso. Os itens colhidos foram transcritos, analisados e pontuados.


          No que diz respeito às proposições essenciais, o grupo de maior escolaridade (3) apresentou melhor desempenho na descrição de ambas as figuras (simples e complexas). Nas figuras visualmente complexas, o grupo com escolaridade média (2) apresentou resultados estatisticamente equivalente ao grupo de alta escolaridade para uma figura e resultado estatisticamente equivalente ao grupo de menor escolaridade (1) para outra figura. Em relação às informações acessórias, não houve diferenças entre os grupos.


          A complexidade visual interfere na capacidade de realizar inferências nos indivíduos com baixa e média escolaridade. Indivíduos com alta escolaridade mantêm o mesmo desempenho na realização de inferências, independentemente do grau de complexidade das figuras.

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          Most cited references 46

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          Mini-metal state examination (MMSE) is a screening test to detect cognitive impairment. The objectives of the present study are to describe some adaptations for use of MMSE in Brazil and to propose rules for its uniform application. We evaluated 433 healthy subjects using the MMSE and verified the possible influence of demographic variables on total scores. Educational level was the main factor that influenced performance, demonstrated by ANOVA: F(4,425) = 100.45, p<0.0001. The median values for educational groups were: 20 for illiterates; 25 for 1 to 4 yrs; 26.5 for 5 to 8 yrs; 28 for 9 to 11 yrs and 29 for higher levels. The MMSE is an excellent screening instrument and definitive rules are necessary for comparison purposes.
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            Theory of mind after traumatic brain injury.

            This study investigated whether people with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) demonstrate a specific impairment on tasks requiring them to make inferences about others' mental states (theory of mind tasks). Participants with severe TBI were compared to a healthy group on verbal first-order and second-order theory of mind (ToM) tasks, non-verbal ToM tasks and on verbal and non-verbal tasks requiring them to make general (non-mental) inferences (NMIs). The clinical group performed more poorly than controls on both ToM and NMI tasks. This performance was not completely accounted for by the working memory or implicit language demands of the tasks. Multiple regression analyses suggested that patients with TBI have a general weakness in inference-making that, combined with linguistic and working memory limitations, impairs their performance on both non-verbal and second-order ToM tasks. However, a specific ToM impairment may underlie their poor performance on verbal first-order tasks. Implications of this finding for the possibility of a separate cognitive module of ToM are discussed, as well as for the rehabilitation of social deficits after TBI.
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              Humor comprehension and appreciation: an FMRI study.

              Humor is a unique ability in human beings. Suls [A two-stage model for the appreciation of jokes and cartoons. In P. E. Goldstein & J. H. McGhee (Eds.), The psychology of humour. Theoretical perspectives and empirical issues. New York: Academic Press, 1972, pp. 81-100] proposed a two-stage model of humor: detection and resolution of incongruity. Incongruity is generated when a prediction is not confirmed in the final part of a story. To comprehend humor, it is necessary to revisit the story, transforming an incongruous situation into a funny, congruous one. Patient and neuroimaging studies carried out until now lead to different outcomes. In particular, patient studies found that right brain-lesion patients have difficulties in humor comprehension, whereas neuroimaging studies suggested a major involvement of the left hemisphere in both humor detection and comprehension. To prevent activation of the left hemisphere due to language processing, we devised a nonverbal task comprising cartoon pairs. Our findings demonstrate activation of both the left and the right hemispheres when comparing funny versus nonfunny cartoons. In particular, we found activation of the right inferior frontal gyrus (BA 47), the left superior temporal gyrus (BA 38), the left middle temporal gyrus (BA 21), and the left cerebellum. These areas were also activated in a nonverbal task exploring attribution of intention [Brunet, E., Sarfati, Y., Hardy-Bayle, M. C., & Decety, J. A PET investigation of the attribution of intentions with a nonverbal task. Neuroimage, 11, 157-166, 2000]. We hypothesize that the resolution of incongruity might occur through a process of intention attribution. We also asked subjects to rate the funniness of each cartoon pair. A parametric analysis showed that the left amygdala was activated in relation to subjective amusement. We hypothesize that the amygdala plays a key role in giving humor an emotional dimension.

                Author and article information

                Dement Neuropsychol
                Dement Neuropsychol
                Dementia & Neuropsychologia
                Associação de Neurologia Cognitiva e do Comportamento
                Jul-Sep 2010
                Jul-Sep 2010
                : 4
                : 3
                : 194-201
                [1 ]Speech Pathologist, Specialist in Neurolinguistics, Speech Pathology Course, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo (FMUSP), São Paulo SP, Brazil.
                [2 ]Speech Pathologist, Specialist in Neurolinguistics, Speech Pathology Course, FMUSP.
                [3 ]MD, MSc, PhD, Department of Neurology, FMUSP.
                [4 ]MSc, PhD, Assistant Professor. Department of Physiotherapy, Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy, FMUSP.
                Author notes
                Ariella Fornachari Ribeiro – Faculty of Medicine / University of Sao Paulo - Rua Evangelista de Souza, 1451- 09260-411 Santo André SP - Brazil. E-mail: ari_fornachari@ 123456yahoo.com.br

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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