Descriptive study of cooperative language in primary care consultations by male and female doctors.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the use of some of the characteristics of male and female language by male and female primary care practitioners during consultations. DESIGN: Doctors' use of the language of dominance and support was explored by using concordancing software. Three areas were examined: mean number of words per consultation; relative frequency of question tags; and use of mitigated directives. The analysis of language associated with cooperative talk examines relevant words or phrases and their immediate context. SUBJECTS: 26 male and 14 female doctors in general practice, in a total of 373 consecutive consultations. SETTING: West Midlands. RESULTS: Doctors spoke significantly more words than patients, but the number of words spoken by male and female doctors did not differ significantly. Question tags were used far more frequently by doctors (P<0.001) than by patients or companions. Frequency of use was similar in male and female doctors, and the speech styles in consultation were similar. CONCLUSIONS: These data show that male and female doctors use a speech style which is not gender specific, contrary to findings elsewhere; doctors consulted in an overtly non-directive, negotiated style, which is realised through suggestions and affective comments. This mode of communication is the core teaching of communication skills courses. These results suggest that men have more to learn to achieve competence as professional communicators. (+info)
Structural maturation of neural pathways in children and adolescents: in vivo study.
Structural maturation of fiber tracts in the human brain, including an increase in the diameter and myelination of axons, may play a role in cognitive development during childhood and adolescence. A computational analysis of structural magnetic resonance images obtained in 111 children and adolescents revealed age-related increases in white matter density in fiber tracts constituting putative corticospinal and frontotemporal pathways. The maturation of the corticospinal tract was bilateral, whereas that of the frontotemporal pathway was found predominantly in the left (speech-dominant) hemisphere. These findings provide evidence for a gradual maturation, during late childhood and adolescence, of fiber pathways presumably supporting motor and speech functions. (+info)
Interarticulator programming in VCV sequences: lip and tongue movements.
This study examined the temporal phasing of tongue and lip movements in vowel-consonant-vowel sequences where the consonant is a bilabial stop consonant /p, b/ and the vowels one of /i, a, u/; only asymmetrical vowel contexts were included in the analysis. Four subjects participated. Articulatory movements were recorded using a magnetometer system. The onset of the tongue movement from the first to the second vowel almost always occurred before the oral closure. Most of the tongue movement trajectory from the first to the second vowel took place during the oral closure for the stop. For all subjects, the onset of the tongue movement occurred earlier with respect to the onset of the lip closing movement as the tongue movement trajectory increased. The influence of consonant voicing and vowel context on interarticulator timing and tongue movement kinematics varied across subjects. Overall, the results are compatible with the hypothesis that there is a temporal window before the oral closure for the stop during which the tongue movement can start. A very early onset of the tongue movement relative to the stop closure together with an extensive movement before the closure would most likely produce an extra vowel sound before the closure. (+info)
Language outcome following multiple subpial transection for Landau-Kleffner syndrome.
Landau-Kleffner syndrome is an acquired epileptic aphasia occurring in normal children who lose previously acquired speech and language abilities. Although some children recover some of these abilities, many children with Landau-Kleffner syndrome have significant language impairments that persist. Multiple subpial transection is a surgical technique that has been proposed as an appropriate treatment for Landau-Kleffner syndrome in that it is designed to eliminate the capacity of cortical tissue to generate seizures or subclinical epileptiform activity, while preserving the cortical functions subserved by that tissue. We report on the speech and language outcome of 14 children who underwent multiple subpial transection for treatment of Landau-Kleffner syndrome. Eleven children demonstrated significant postoperative improvement on measures of receptive or expressive vocabulary. Results indicate that early diagnosis and treatment optimize outcome, and that gains in language function are most likely to be seen years, rather than months, after surgery. Since an appropriate control group was not available, and that the best predictor of postoperative improvements in language function was that of length of time since surgery, these data might best be used as a benchmark against other Landau-Kleffner syndrome outcome studies. We conclude that multiple subpial transection may be useful in allowing for a restoration of speech and language abilities in children diagnosed with Landau-Kleffner syndrome. (+info)
Survey of outpatient sputum cytology: influence of written instructions on sample quality and who benefits from investigation.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluated quality of outpatient sputum cytology and whether written instructions to patients improve sample quality and to identify variables that predict satisfactory samples. DESIGN: Prospective randomised study. SETTING: Outpatient department of a district general hospital. PATIENTS: 224 patients recruited over 18 months whenever their clinicians requested sputum cytology, randomized to receive oral or oral and written advice. INTERVENTIONS: Oral advice from nurse on producing a sputum sample (114 patients); oral advice plus written instructions (110). MAIN MEASURES: Percentages of satisfactory sputum samples and of patients who produced more than one satisfactory sample; clinical or radiological features identified from subsequent review of patients' notes and radiographs associated with satisfactory samples; final diagnosis of bronchial cancer. RESULTS: 588 sputum samples were requested and 477 received. Patients in the group receiving additional written instructions produced 75(34%) satisfactory samples and 43(39%) of them one or more sets of satisfactory samples. Corresponding figures for the group receiving only oral advice (80(31%) and 46(40%) respectively)were not significantly different. Logistic regression showed that radiological evidence of collapse or consolidation (p<0.01) and hilar mass (p<0.05) were significant predictors of the production of satisfactory samples. Sputum cytology confirmed the diagnosis in only 9(17%) patients with bronchial carcinoma. CONCLUSIONS: The quality of outpatients' sputum samples was poor and was not improved by written instructions. Sputum cytology should be limited to patients with probable bronchial cancer unsuitable for surgery. IMPLICATIONS: Collection of samples and requests for sputum cytology should be reviewed in other hospitals. (+info)
Continuous speech recognition for clinicians.
The current generation of continuous speech recognition systems claims to offer high accuracy (greater than 95 percent) speech recognition at natural speech rates (150 words per minute) on low-cost (under $2000) platforms. This paper presents a state-of-the-technology summary, along with insights the authors have gained through testing one such product extensively and other products superficially. The authors have identified a number of issues that are important in managing accuracy and usability. First, for efficient recognition users must start with a dictionary containing the phonetic spellings of all words they anticipate using. The authors dictated 50 discharge summaries using one inexpensive internal medicine dictionary ($30) and found that they needed to add an additional 400 terms to get recognition rates of 98 percent. However, if they used either of two more expensive and extensive commercial medical vocabularies ($349 and $695), they did not need to add terms to get a 98 percent recognition rate. Second, users must speak clearly and continuously, distinctly pronouncing all syllables. Users must also correct errors as they occur, because accuracy improves with error correction by at least 5 percent over two weeks. Users may find it difficult to train the system to recognize certain terms, regardless of the amount of training, and appropriate substitutions must be created. For example, the authors had to substitute "twice a day" for "bid" when using the less expensive dictionary, but not when using the other two dictionaries. From trials they conducted in settings ranging from an emergency room to hospital wards and clinicians' offices, they learned that ambient noise has minimal effect. Finally, they found that a minimal "usable" hardware configuration (which keeps up with dictation) comprises a 300-MHz Pentium processor with 128 MB of RAM and a "speech quality" sound card (e.g., SoundBlaster, $99). Anything less powerful will result in the system lagging behind the speaking rate. The authors obtained 97 percent accuracy with just 30 minutes of training when using the latest edition of one of the speech recognition systems supplemented by a commercial medical dictionary. This technology has advanced considerably in recent years and is now a serious contender to replace some or all of the increasingly expensive alternative methods of dictation with human transcription. (+info)
Language related brain potentials in patients with cortical and subcortical left hemisphere lesions.
The role of the basal ganglia in language processing is currently a matter of discussion. Therefore, patients with left frontal cortical and subcortical lesions involving the basal ganglia as well as normal controls were tested in a language comprehension paradigm. Semantically incorrect, syntactically incorrect and correct sentences were presented auditorily. Subjects were required to listen to the sentences and to judge whether the sentence heard was correct or not. Event-related potentials and reaction times were recorded while subjects heard the sentences. Three different components correlated with different language processes were considered: the so-called N400 assumed to reflect processes of semantic integration; the early left anterior negativity hypothesized to reflect processes of initial syntactic structure building; and a late positivity (P600) taken to reflect second-pass processes including re-analysis and repair. Normal participants showed the expected N400 component for semantically incorrect sentences and an early anterior negativity followed by a P600 for syntactically incorrect sentences. Patients with left frontal cortical lesions displayed an attenuated N400 component in the semantic condition. In the syntactic condition only a late positivity was observed. Patients with lesions of the basal ganglia, in contrast, showed an N400 to semantic violations and an early anterior negativity as well as a P600 to syntactic violations, comparable to normal controls. Under the assumption that the early anterior negativity reflects automatic first-pass parsing processes and the P600 component more controlled second-pass parsing processes, the present results suggest that the left frontal cortex might support early parsing processes, and that specific regions of the basal ganglia, in contrast, may not be crucial for early parsing processes during sentence comprehension. (+info)
Development of a stroke-specific quality of life scale.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Clinical stroke trials are increasingly measuring patient-centered outcomes such as functional status and health-related quality of life (HRQOL). No stroke-specific HRQOL measure is currently available. This study presents the initial development of a valid, reliable, and responsive stroke-specific quality of life (SS-QOL) measure, for use in stroke trials. METHODS: Domains and items for the SS-QOL were developed from patient interviews. The SS-QOL, Short Form 36, Beck Depression Inventory, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, and Barthel Index were administered to patients 1 and 3 months after ischemic stroke. Items were eliminated with the use of standard psychometric criteria. Construct validity was assessed by comparing domain scores with similar domains of established measures. Domain responsiveness was assessed with standardized effect sizes. RESULTS: All 12 domains of the SS-QOL were unidimensional. In the final 49-item scale, all domains demonstrated excellent internal reliability (Cronbach's alpha values for each domain >/=0.73). Most domains were moderately correlated with similar domains of established outcome measures (r2 range, 0.3 to 0.5). Most domains were responsive to change (standardized effect sizes >0.4). One- and 3-month SS-QOL scores were associated with patients' self-report of HRQOL compared with before their stroke (P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: The SS-QOL measures HRQOL, its primary underlying construct, in stroke patients. Preliminary results regarding the reliability, validity, and responsiveness of the SS-QOL are encouraging. Further studies in diverse stroke populations are needed. (+info)