Communicative deficits in agenesis of the corpus callosum: Nonliteral language and affective prosody

Lynn K. Paul, Diana Van Lancker-Sidtis, Beatrix Schieffer, Rosalind Dietrich, Warren S. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While some individuals with agenesis of the corpus callosum can perform normally on standardized intelligence tests, clinical observations suggest that they nevertheless have deficits in the domains of fluid and social intelligence. Particularly important for social competence is adequate understanding and use of paralinguistic information. This study examined the impact of callosal absence on the processing of pragmatic and paralinguistic information. Young adult males with agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC) were evaluated in the areas of nonliteral language comprehension, proverb recognition and interpretation, and perception of affective prosody. Ten ACC individuals with normal Wechsler IQ were compared to 14 sex, age, and IQ matched normal controls. The Formulaic and Novel Language Comprehension Test (FANL-C), Gorham Proverbs Test, and LA Prosody Test were administered. ACC subjects exhibited significant impairment on the nonliteral items of the FANL-C, but no significant difference from controls in comprehension of literal items. ACC subjects also exhibited significant deficits in both self-generated interpretation and recognition of proverb meaning, and in recognition of affective prosody. These results demonstrate that normally intelligent individuals with ACC are impaired in the understanding of nonliteral language and emotional-prosodic cues that are important in social communication. In all three tests, the performance of individuals with ACC was similar to patients with right hemisphere brain damage. Thus, persons with ACC appear to lack interhemispheric integration of critical aspects of language processed by the right hemisphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-324
Number of pages12
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Agenesis of the corpus callosum
  • Corpus callosum
  • Idioms
  • Nonliteral language
  • Prosody
  • Proverbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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