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The anterior temporal lobes support residual comprehension in Wernicke’s aphasia

Robson, H., Zahn, R., Keidel, J. L., Binney, R. J., Sage, K. and Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2014) The anterior temporal lobes support residual comprehension in Wernicke’s aphasia. Brain : a journal of neurology, 137 (3). pp. 931-943. ISSN 1460-2156

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/brain/awt373

Abstract/Summary

Wernicke’s aphasia occurs following a stroke to classical language comprehension regions in the left temporoparietal cortex. Consequently, auditory-verbal comprehension is significantly impaired in Wernicke’s aphasia but the capacity to comprehend visually presented materials (written words and pictures) is partially spared. This study used fMRI to investigate the neural basis of written word and picture semantic processing in Wernicke’s aphasia, with the wider aim of examining how the semantic system is altered following damage to the classical comprehension regions. Twelve participants with Wernicke’s aphasia and twelve control participants performed semantic animate-inanimate judgements and a visual height judgement baseline task. Whole brain and ROI analysis in Wernicke’s aphasia and control participants found that semantic judgements were underpinned by activation in the ventral and anterior temporal lobes bilaterally. The Wernicke’s aphasia group displayed an “over-activation” in comparison to control participants, indicating that anterior temporal lobe regions become increasingly influential following reduction in posterior semantic resources. Semantic processing of written words in Wernicke’s aphasia was additionally supported by recruitment of the right anterior superior temporal lobe, a region previously associated with recovery from auditory-verbal comprehension impairments. Overall, the results concord with models which indicate that the anterior temporal lobes are crucial for multimodal semantic processing and that these regions may be accessed without support from classic posterior comprehension regions.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
ID Code:37850
Publisher:Oxford Journals

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