What is it about?

Wernicke's aphasia is a condition caused by a stroke. Wernicke's aphasia results in severe difficulties with communication, including problems in understanding language. Some people who have Wernicke's aphasia straight after a stroke are able to recover their language comprehension, but others do not. This study looked at how language comprehension changed in people with Wernicke's aphasia between 2.5 and 9 months after their stroke and how and why language comprehension was able to recover. We found that most people with Wernicke's aphasia showed some degree of language comprehension recovery. Surprisingly, the degree of comprehension recovery was not related to improvements in the brain functions known to underpin normal language comprehension but was related to auditory processing abilities at 2.5 months. This indicates that comprehension recovers because the brain gets better at interpreting the auditory information it receives, even though the quality of that information remains impoverished.

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Why is it important?

People with Wernicke's aphasia are cut off from society because of their language comprehension impairments. It is important that we optimise our treatments for this condition. This research indicates that there is limited natural recovery in the ability to analyse the auditory information in speech and that this could be a key target for rehabilitation at an early time after a stroke.

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This page is a summary of: Auditory, Phonological, and Semantic Factors in the Recovery From Wernicke’s Aphasia Poststroke: Predictive Value and Implications for Rehabilitation, Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, August 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/1545968319868709.
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