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A model of comprehension in spina bifida meningomyelocele: Meaning activation, integration, and revision

  • MARCIA A. BARNES (a1) (a2) (a3), JOELENE HUBER (a3), AMBER M. JOHNSTON (a1) and MAUREEN DENNIS (a3) (a4)


Spina bifida meningomyelocele (SBM) is a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with adequate development of word reading and single word comprehension, but deficient text and discourse comprehension. Studies of comprehension in children with SBM are reviewed in relation to a comprehension model in which meanings are either activated from the surface code or constructed through resource-intensive integration and revision processes to form representations of the text base and models of the situation described by the text. Two new studies probed the construction of situation models in SBM. Experiment 1 tested the ability to build spatial and affective situation models from single sentences in 86 children with SBM (8 to 18 years of age) and 37 control children (8 to 16 years of age). Experiment 2 tested the ability to integrate across sentences to build spatial situation models in 15 children with SBM and 15 age-matched controls. Compared to age peers, children with SBM did not construct situation models that required integration of information across sentences, even though they could construct such models from single sentences. The data bear on the distinctive SBM neurocognitive profile, and more generally, on the significance of integration processes for the constructive aspects of language comprehension. (JINS, 2007, 13, 854–864.)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Marcia A. Barnes, Psychology Department, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, L9H 4Y9, Canada. E-mail:


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