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ISRN Neurol. 2012;2012:786872. doi: 10.5402/2012/786872. Epub 2012 Dec 23.

What is the nature of poststroke language recovery and reorganization?

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  • 1Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, 635 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA ; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


This review focuses on three main topics related to the nature of poststroke language recovery and reorganization. The first topic pertains to the nature of anatomical and physiological substrates in the infarcted hemisphere in poststroke aphasia, including the nature of the hemodynamic response in patients with poststroke aphasia, the nature of the peri-infarct tissue, and the neuronal plasticity potential in the infarcted hemisphere. The second section of the paper reviews the current neuroimaging evidence for language recovery in the acute, subacute, and chronic stages of recovery. The third and final section examines changes in connectivity as a function of recovery in poststroke aphasia, specifically in terms of changes in white matter connectivity, changes in functional effective connectivity, and changes in resting state connectivity after stroke. While much progress has been made in our understanding of language recovery, more work needs to be done. Future studies will need to examine whether reorganization of language in poststroke aphasia corresponds to a tighter, more coherent, and efficient network of residual and new regions in the brain. Answering these questions will go a long way towards being able to predict which patients are likely to recover and may benefit from future rehabilitation.

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