Part 2 (of 3): New Approaches to Evaluation: Brain and language functioning.
Aphasia is a communication disorder that can affect a person's ability to use and understand spoken or written language.
It usually results from damage to the side of the brain dominant for language. For most people, who are right handed this is the left side.
In an attempt to understand why some patients recover and some don't we use functional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain imaging.
We hope to reveal the underlying crucial brain areas that when damaged cause specific aphasia symptoms.
The goal is to understand how injury to a particular brain structure impairs specific portions of a person's language process.
The results could be useful in treating many types of aphasia, since the underlying cause can vary.
For example: We found that
- despite patients having similar brain damage, (lesions to the left posterior temporal lobe, Wernicke's area)
- they had recovered speech comprehension to varying degrees.
The reason was that brain areas on the left side, near to the stroke but not directly damaged by it were not functioning normally. (See figure below)
The implication is that in the patients who did not recover speech comprehension the connections between the 2 brain regions were also damaged by the stroke. [Crinion et al. 2005]
Future treatments will be targeting these structurally intact brain regions to make them function normally again through drugs and speech/language therapy and hopefully then these aphasics' speech comprehension will improve too.
Crinion, J. T., Lambon-Ralph, M. A., Warburton, E. A., Howard, D., and Wise, R. J. Function of the anterior superior temporal sulcus during speech comprehension after aphasic stroke. Cerebral Cortex . 2005.
If you have any other questions or would like to get involved in our research please contact Jenny Crinion; contact details can be found in Part III.
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