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I'm translating a neuropsychological assessment report into English and I'm not sure which word/phrase to use here:

The neuropsychological functions related to the performance of volitional and differentiated actions, motor production, perception, verbal memory and attention are...

The idea is that these functions are unimpaired, or functioning normally/properly. "Unimpaired" is a negative word, with a negative prefix. I'd like to use a positive word. "functioning" sounds clumsy: "the functions are functioning".

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Hi, zac, and welcome to ELU. –  medica Dec 22 '13 at 21:32
I don't understand why you say unimpaired is a "negative" word. Presumably your context is one where neuropsychological impairment is at least a possibility, otherwise why would you mention the actual condition at all? But perhaps you might like unaffected better (or just plain normal). –  FumbleFingers Dec 22 '13 at 21:34
@FumbleFingers - stick to your guns. The correct word here is indeed unimpaired. –  medica Dec 22 '13 at 21:56
I meant negative in the sense that it is a negation of "impaired", not necessarily with negative connotations. But Susan's comments have clarified the issue. Thank you. –  Zac Dec 22 '13 at 22:17

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I presume you want to avoid a negative connotation word because you have been told/informed that it is better to use a positive word to express something than a negative. However, unimpaired is widely used in the medical literature, because it stands so directly for the positive opposite to impaired, regardless of grammar. Unimpaired carried a positive connotation, and I would most definitely use it in an academic paper on neuroscience (though my areas are medicine and molecular biology).

From this chapter on fluent aphasias (referring here to Wernicke's):

Although the form of language may be relatively unimpaired, speech may be essentially meaningless in the most severe cases, and sound a little like "Jabberwocky."

Or this paper on how the cross-linguistic prevalence of SOV and SVO word orders reflects the sequential and hierarchical representation of activity in Broca’s Area:

c) Lesion sites significantly linked with impaired vs. unimpaired performances on tasks probing action concepts. Colors indicate areas associated with impairment on 6/6 tasks...

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Hi Susan! Thank you so much for your feedback. This is just what I needed. Indeed, when you're not native to the language you're working with, sometimes you feel quite unsure about how your text will sound. Your comment helped me feel much more confident about my work. Thanks! –  Zac Dec 22 '13 at 22:14
Susan is spot-on. "Unimpaired" is perfect in the context described. –  Michael Owen Sartin Dec 23 '13 at 0:40

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