Stroke victims affected with loss of speech caused by Broca’s aphasia have been shown to speak fluidly through the use of a process called “speech entrainment” developed by researchers at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.
Aphasia, a severe communication problem caused by damage to the brain’s left hemisphere and characterized by halting speech, occurs in about one-third of people who have a stroke and affects personal and professional relationships. Using the speech entrainment technique, which involves mimicking other, patients showed significant improvement in their ability to speak.
The results of the study are published in a recent issue of the neurology journal Brain.
"This is the first time that we have seen people with Broca’s aphasia speak in fluent sentences,” said Julius Fridriksson, the study’s lead researcher and a professor with the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the Arnold School. “It is a small study that gives us an understanding of how the brain functions after a stroke, and it offers hope for thousands of people who suffer strokes each year."
In Fridriksson’s study, 13 patients completed three separate behavioral tasks that were used to understand the effects of speech entrainment on speech production. During the “speech entrainment–audio visual" portion of the study, participants attempted to mimic a speaker in real-time whose mouth was made visible on the 3.5-inch screen of an iPod Touch and whose speech was heard via headphones.
The “speech entrainment–audio only” condition involved real-time mimicking speech presented via headphones with the screen of the iPod blank. During a spontaneous speech condition, patients spoke about a given topic without external aid.
Each patient also completed a three-week training phase where they practiced speech every day with the aid of speech entrainment. Overall, the training resulted in improved spontaneous speech production, something that is relatively rare in this population. Ultimately the patients were able to produce a short script about their stroke to tell to other people.
Neuroimaging results from the patient subjects have also given Fridriksson and his research team a greater understanding of the mechanism involved in speech entrainment.
"Preliminary results suggest that training with speech entrainment improves speech production in Broca’s aphasia, providing a potential therapeutic method for a disorder that has been shown to be particularly resistant to treatment," Fridriksson said.
The Treasure Hunt - A Children’s Story About Aphasia
Speech pathologist Shiree Heath wrote this story about a child learning about his grandfather’s stroke-induced aphasia. When certain language processing centers of the brain are damaged after stroke, patients can lose the ability to verbalize what they see, even though they recognize the image (and can perhaps even “say” it in their mind). And that’s just one of many kinds of aphasia.
What happens between thoughts and words is a long and winding neurological cascade, and this video tells the story in a simple and elegant way.
Types of Aphasia.
What Is Aphasia? What Causes Aphasia?
Aphasia is a language disorder that negatively affects a person’s ability to talk, understand the spoken word and also their reading and writing. Originating from the Greek word "aphatos" which means speechless, aphasia is a symptom resultant of pre-existing brain damage, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke (with over 30% of stroke victims suffering aphasia to some degree).
Originally, aphasia was a term used only to describe complete impairment of the person’s communication and language. At the time the term dysphasia was used to describe partial language impairment, but it has been frequently mistaken for a swallowing disorder, dysphagia. Because of this, the term aphasia has taken on the meaning of both degrees of language impairment.
As there are three types of aphasia, the symptoms can differ for each type. Details of these differences are:
- Global aphasia - All parts of vocal and written interaction are affected. Both writing and reading is impaired, as well as speech and listening.
- Fluent aphasia - Speech is hard/not possible to understand. The ability to speak is not impaired, but the words spoken make no sense (word salad). Writing ability is usually effected in the same way, the writing is flowing but what is actually written is nonsense.
The person suffering from fluent aphasia may become annoyed and irritated if someone has trouble understanding them as they don’t always realize they have a language disorder. As for understanding, people with fluent aphasia more commonly have problems with speech than writing.
- Non-fluent aphasia - With this type, speech is slower and hesitant, the patient also struggles to get their words out. Sentences are rarely completed, and even though some words are missing, what they are saying can be made sense of. Again writing ability is usually the same as speech but comprehension is good.
Someone with non-fluent aphasia has more problems with grammar than words alone. People with this kind of aphasia are more aware of their disorder and may get annoyed when they struggle with words.
What Causes Aphasia?
The part of the brain that controls speech and language recognition is referred to as the language center. It is normally in the part of the brain opposite to side of the hand you write with (e.g. left side of brain for the right handed). These parts of the brain are known asBroca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Aphasia is caused when any of these parts of the brain or the neural pathways connecting them are damaged. This can be a result of the following:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Brain tumor
The type of aphasia is dependent on which part of the brain is damaged. The causes of each type of aphasia are:
- Global aphasia - caused by widespread damage right through the language center.
- Fluent aphasia - usually caused by damage to the temporal lobe (side of brain).
- Non-fluent aphasia - mostly the result of frontal lobe (front of brain) damage.
Disorders Confused with Aphasia:
A variety of other communication disorders may accompany aphasia or occur independently, yet be confused with aphasia. It is important to recognize these disorders and distinguish them from aphasia, as treatments and prognoses may vary.
With dysarthria, a person is unable to produce speech accurately due either to weakness of the muscles involved in speaking or a lack of coordination among these muscles. Dysarthria affects the production, not language itself — which distinguishes it from aphasia.
Dysarthria affects children and adults, with causes including stroke, head injury, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy.
For a person with dysphagia, swallowing is difficult and may cause pain, sometimes making it difficult to take in enough calories and fluids to nourish the body. It occurs most often in the elderly as the result of conditions like Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, stroke, head injury, or cancer.
Dementia is a loss of brain function that affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. Some forms of dementia are progressive, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Because language difficulties are often prominent in dementia, it is often confused with aphasia. But the language difficulties in dementia are usually just one symptom of a more widespread intellectual loss.
Why do we eat? Why can’t we stop?
Childhood vaccination is a public health success story, so it’s disheartening to see studies attacking this intervention that are fraudulent. We should be open to the real risks of side effects from vaccines, but so far, there’s no evidence that vaccines cause autism. In fact, new studies are beginning to suggest that autism begins in the womb. Don’t believe celebrities, and don’t believe me - believe the science.
Genetic Factor Contributes to Forgetfulness
University of Bonn psychologists prove genetic variation is underlying factor in higher incidence of forgetfulness. See notes below the article for disclaimer about this research.
Misplaced your keys? Can’t remember someone’s name? Didn’t notice the stop sign? Those who frequently experience such cognitive lapses now have an explanation. Psychologists from the University of Bonn have found a connection between such everyday lapses and the DRD2 gene. Those who have a certain variant of this gene are more easily distracted and experience a significantly higher incidence of lapses due to a lack of attention. The scientific team will probably report their results in the May issue of Neuroscience Letters, which is already available online in advance.
Your brain is old and wrinkled.
Natural aging doesn’t need to be all gloom and doom. One of the most important things you can do for your brain is to keep your heart healthy.
If you are lucky enough to find a weirdo never let them go
Matthew Gray Gubler (via jeeeplife)
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all hail the mighty boosh ! seriously though he’s got a very good point.