by Chris Vetrano
Brain and Behavior
A Communication Disorder “is an impairment in the ability to receive, send,
process, and comprehend concepts or verbal, nonverbal and graphic symbol
systems. A communication disorder may be evident in the processes of hearing,
language, and/or speech. A communication disorder may range in severity from
mild to profound. It may be developmental or acquired. Individuals may
demonstrate one or any combination of communication disorders. A
communication disorder may result in a primary disability or it may be secondary
to other disabilities.”
A language disorder due to brain damage or disease. It
can include difficulty with formulating, expressing
and understanding language.
Types of Aphasias
Aphasias are distinguished by symptoms and
indicate the neural structures that have been
damaged. There are several types of Aphasias, I will
discuss three of them.
III. Anomic aphasia
(also known as dysnomia, nominal aphasia, and
I. Wernicke's aphasia
II. Broca’s aphasia
Neural Structures Implicated in Aphasias
Wernicke's aphasia - is generally caused by comprising the superior temporal
gyrus, in the superior portion of Brodmann area 22.
Broca’s aphasia - is generally caused by comprising Brodmann areas 44 and 45, which lie
anterior to the premotor cortex in the inferior posterior portion of the frontal lobe
Anomic aphasia - Anomia is caused by damage to various parts of the parietal lobe or
the temporal lobe of the brain. This type of phenomenon can be quite complex, and usually involves a
breakdown in one or more pathways between regions in the brain. The responses may also differ
depending on whether objects are shown in the right or left hand side of the visual field.
Causes of Aphasia
“Aphasia is usually caused by a stroke or brain injury with
damage to one or more parts of the brain that deal with
language.” According to the National Aphasia Association,
about 25% to 40% of people who survive a stroke get
aphasia. Other ways to get an aphasia are by severe head
injury, brain tumor, corticobasal degeneration (CBD),
progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), Alzheimer’s disease,
meningitis, and encephalitis.
Brain with a lesion causing Wernicke’s
Effects of Aphasias
Wernicke's Aphasia - is a type of aphasia often (but not always) caused by neurological damage to Wernicke's area in
the brain (Brodman Area 22, in the posterior part of the superior temporal gyrus of the dominant hemisphere).
Example: “I called my mother on the television and did not understand the door. It was too breakfast, but they came from far
to near. My mother is not too old for me to be young.”
Broca's Aphasia - is an aphasia caused by damage to anterior regions of the brain, including (but not limited to) the left
inferior frontal region known as Broca's area.
For example, in the following passage, a Broca's aphasic patient is trying to explain how he came to the
hospital for dental surgery: “Yes... ah... Monday... er... Dad and Peter H... (his own name), and Dad.... er... hospital... and ah...
Wednesday... Wednesday, nine o'clock... and oh... Thursday... ten o'clock, ah doctors... two... an' doctors... and er... teeth... yah.”
Anomic aphasia- is a form of aphasia (loss of language capability caused by brain damage) in which the subject has
difficulty remembering or recognizing names which the subject should know well. The subject speaks fluently, grammatically, has
normal comprehension, and the only deficit is trouble with "word finding," that is, finding appropriate words for what they mean to
Subjects often use circumlocutions, in order to express a certain word for which they cannot remember the
name. Sometimes the subject can recall the name when given clues. Sufferers are often frustrated when they
know they know the name, but cannot produce it.
"Hold on, I should know the name of that thing... Give me a minute ..."
Treatments and Prognosis for Aphasias
“Several major studies are underway in Thompson’s lab. In one, aphasia patients are trained to comprehend
and produce selected syntactic structures Thompson and her team, using neural imaging, study resultant
changes in brain activity. The team also studies the effects of the site and the extent of brain damage, such
as how blood flows in various brain regions. Their hope is to determine whether recovery can be predicted
and, if so, to identify the most important predictors.” “the training they used in research had positive
therapeutic effects on the aphasic participants’ ability to communicate.”
Treatment for someone with aphasia depends on factors such as:
• Cause of brain injury
• Type of aphasia
• Position and size of the brain lesion
A person with aphasia may have a brain tumor that's affecting the
language center of the brain. Surgery to treat the brain tumor may
also improve the aphasia.
A person with aphasia who has had a stroke may benefit from
sessions with a speech-language pathologist.
Speech and Language Therapy
Aphasia can be difficult for individuals who have it and also
for the people involved with them. “Patients might become
frustrated when trying to decipher written and oral
communication. Friends, family members and caregivers are
advised to speak slowly and to use simple sentences.
Significant others should be compassionate when they must
repeat themselves to a friend or family member who have an
Aphasia usually occurs in the middle to later years of life. It
can occur in both men and women. It is estimated that about
80,000 people are afflicted every year, and there are over 1
million sufferers in the United States. Some individuals
recover completely without treatment, but a large amount of
sufferers require treatment such as speech therapy. At the
moment, there are also a large number of research studies
being undertaken, as well new drugs available to help
sufferers now and in the future.
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NHS Choices (2012, November 13). Aphasia. Retrieved August 9, 2013, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Aphasia/Pages/Introduction.aspx
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