Saturday, September 17, 2011

Aphasia - A short Overview

Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to the portions of the brain that are responsible for language. It occurs suddenly and usually as a result of a stroke or head injury. However, it may also be the cause of brain tumor, an infection or dementia.

Aphasias can be divided into:
-receptive and expressive aphasias
-fluent and non-fluent
-anterior and posterior aphasias

Broca Aphasia
The name of this aphasia comes from the area that is affected, the Broca area. This area is located in the  posterior inferior frontal gyrus of the brain. It is the most common type of aphasia and it’s non-fluent.
The speech is affected and talking is only reduced to a few nouns and verbs. This is usually the first sign that occurs when a person has Broca aphasia. In some extreme cases, patients only produce a single word. Sometimes writing can be affected too.
Here is a girl suffering from Broca aphasia after an ischemic stroke:

Here is a man suffering from Broca Aphasia:

Wernike Aphasia
The name of this aphasia also comes from the affected area. It is a fluent aphasia and it is characterized by a severe impairment of understanding. Patients can hear that the person is speaking but they cannot understand the message. Although it is a fluent aphasia, talking can be affected too. People can produce “word salad” in the most extreme cases. This happens because the person cannot verify what they say since they cannot understand language. So even if they hear themselves talking and they are able to talk (their expressive ability is not impaired), their speech seems affected because they simply cannot correct themselves. A word salad happens when a person says intelligible words but they are randomly put together. If a person has used certain expressions for a long time, they are automated and they can be preserved and understood.

Here is the patient with Wernike Aphasia:

Conduction aphasia
This is also called associative aphasia – is a rare form of aphasia. It is caused by damage in the language centers and it’s usually acquired from stroke, traumatic brain injuries or localized lesions – like the rest of the aphasias. The main characteristic is the fact that patients cannot repeat words, not even when they read aloud. However, their speech and writing is almost normal. They understand words and their grammar is good. They might also have frequent errors during spontaneous speech but they are aware of them.

Anomic aphasia/ amnesic aphasia/nominal aphasia
Patients suffering from this type of aphasia have a problem with recalling words or names. In severe cases the person speaks without nouns. It is probably one of the most frequent forms of aphasia and it can also appear as a residual aphasia.

Transcortical motor aphasia 
This aphasia affects speech and writing but it can also induce a strange phenomena: echolalia  - the patient automatically repeats what another person says perfectly but they cannot talk themselves.

Transcortical sensory aphasia 
The patient has a poor comprehension but has a good speech with correct grammar. Patients will be able to communicate and repeat. However, they suffer from semantic paraphasia, so they cannot understand what they are being told.

Global aphasia 
 A massive aphasia that effects both expression and understanding.

Recovery: speech language therapy and support groups

Further reading:
The National Aphasia Association


  1. You really are curious about the most interesting things! My brother in law's brother had a stroke and suffers from aphasia. He has difficulty getting the words out and usually has one word answers

    ....but he can place the swear words perfectly every time! Considering the severity of his stroke, he's a miracle. No one expected him to survive!

  2. Thanks! It's great that he survived, many patients are paralyzed and a lot of them die. Is he doing any form of speech therapy or any type of recovery program? That would definitely help him, even if he will hot be recovered completely your family might see improvement in his speech. It's funny that he can swear; it seems that swearing is his automatic speech. :D

  3. This post made me remember my Grandpa..he has clots in his brain and he lost his memory..the doctors said he has only months to live but it has been a year now and I'm glad he is still living..I love my Grandpa and his mere presence makes me glad..his memory might be lost but every time I see his eyes I know my Grandpa loves me..I am his favorite so just seeing him smile is already ok for me..regardless of his memory loss..thank you for the nice info. Andreaa :)

  4. Great info and some of it I did not know. My colleague was one of those effected and he has lost not all but some memory. It was sad to see him in that state.

  5. My grandmother had a stroke and her speech was severely impacted. She did speech therapy and it improved somewhat, but it was still very difficult to understand. I love how your posts are always so though provoking! Have a great weekend!

  6. @Sie aww, I'm so sorry to hear about your grandpa. It's good that he is still alive despite what the doctors said! My grandpa died and we had a really special relationship so I know how it is to have a sick relative that you love very much. Thank you Sie
    @Nava Thanks!It's good though that he only lost some of his memory. Perhaps there is some chance of recovery.
    @Frugal It's good that your grandmother's speech improved. Unfortunately speech therapy takes years and any improvement is welcomed so your grandmother is lucky. Thanks for the compliment dear and have a wonderful weekend yourself :D

  7. Thanks for sharing I have read about that in Introduction to Psychology book. That is best book. I think I also have a little psychological disease, whenever I hear or read about a personality and a related event. I am unable to recall the name of that personality after a day but I can tell the event in short. It is same in new institutes people know my name but I forget there.

  8. Great post! I'm forwarding this to my sister who's in grad school right now to get her Psy.D.

  9. Thanks for this short overview. It's really very informative. :)

  10. very informative post...thanks for the detailed explanation..!
    Tasty Appetite

  11. hi andreea, aphasia is such a scary disease/ handicap.. everything is so scary, when the brain is damaged..
    I have an award for you. please collect at my site. Do let me know if you cant download, gimme your email address, I will send to you by email .Thanks

  12. @ Sarang Mangi I’m sorry my answer comes this late but I was so busy and didn’t had time to check all the comments. I don’t think you have a psychological issue, it happens to me to. It’s just that people have different ways of remembering things and your way of remembering is great, it would be terrible if it would be the other way around. When I was in high school and I learned about events and wars I always forgot the names but always remembered the story and event. If you want to remember names better try associating them with things familiar to you, that always helped me because I always forget names but never forget faces :D
    @yummychuncklet Thanks a lot, I’m so happy it’s useful for somebody :D
    @Balquis Thanks dear :D
    @Jay Thank you so much :D
    @cookingvarieties Fortunately some people can get improvement with different treatment and there’s a lot of research going for new treatment methods. thanks for the award, I already wrote about it in my latest post, it’s so nice of you :D

  13. Yup i have read about that way. You are right many of my classfellows get math problems difficultly but I undestand and solve them fastly. As my friends say programming language of aliens but for me it is easy. I havent learned programming from any institute but I am very good in programming.

  14. Thanks P K Narayanan! :D
    @Sarang Wow that's really cool, you are really intelligent. It's so great that you can learn such a hard topic on your own. :D

  15. great information thnk you for sharing