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Aphasiology. 2017;31(8):951-980. doi: 10.1080/02687038.2016.1225276. Epub 2016 Sep 2.

Rapid recovery from aphasia after infarction of Wernicke's area.

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Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
Department of Neurology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.



Aphasia following infarction of Wernicke's area typically resolves to some extent over time. The nature of this recovery process and its time course have not been characterized in detail, especially in the acute/subacute period.


The goal of this study was to document recovery after infarction of Wernicke's area in detail in the first 3 months after stroke. Specifically, we aimed to address two questions about language recovery. First, which impaired language domains improve over time, and which do not? Second, what is the time course of recovery?


We used quantitative analysis of connected speech and a brief aphasia battery to document language recovery in two individuals with aphasia following infarction of the posterior superior temporal gyrus. Speech samples were acquired daily between 2 and 16 days post stroke, and also at 1 month and 3 months. Speech samples were transcribed and coded using the CHAT system, in order to quantify multiple language domains. A brief aphasia battery was also administered at a subset of five time points during the 3 months.


Both patients showed substantial recovery of language function over this time period. Most, but not all, language domains showed improvements, including fluency, lexical access, phonological retrieval and encoding, and syntactic complexity. The time course of recovery was logarithmic, with the greatest gains taking place early in the course of recovery.


There is considerable potential for amelioration of language deficits when damage is relatively circumscribed to the posterior superior temporal gyrus. Quantitative analysis of connected speech samples proved to be an effective, albeit time-consuming, approach to tracking day-by-day recovery in the acute/subacute post-stroke period.


Wernicke's area; aphasia; connected speech; recovery; stroke

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