Study of curse words could help traumatic brain injury patients

Don’t be alarmed if you walk by a lab in Temple’s College of Public Health and overhear some profanity—it’s probably just part of research.

A team of scientists in the college, led by Associate Professor Jamie Reilly, is using colorful language to investigate potential treatments for people who experience traumatic brain injuries and other disorders affecting speech.

Reilly, director of the Concepts and Cognition Lab in the College of Public Health, recently published a paper in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review that explores the form and meaning of words that are considered taboo.

“I’ve seen many patients clinically who curse after they’ve had brain injuries,” Reilly said. “It just kind of comes out when they really don’t mean it to. Often they’ll say something harsh and then start crying and apologizing. There’s no treatment for it.”

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