A team of researchers from Reading University took a great step forward to understand one of the rarest language disorders caused by cerebrovascular accidents (stroke). Dr. Holly Robson discovered that in the case of people who suffer from Wernicke’s aphasia their brains respond in a greater percentage to the language and visual tests in comparison with people who don’t have this disorder.
In certain areas of the brain, the increase of the blood flow was ten times more for those with Wernicke’s aphasia than for those in the control group.
These paradoxical discoveries could open the door to new treatments and new paths in researching aphasia.
Wernicke’s aphasia is a rare and devastating type of aphasia –a language disorder, mainly caused by cerebrovascular accidents, affecting 250,000 people only in Great Britain.
The presents study, sponsored by the Stroke Association and conducted in partnership by Manchester University and Bangor University, is the greatest study of neuroimaging on Wernicke’s aphasia. The researchers asked 12 people suffering from Wernicke’s aphasia and 12 control subjects to make logical correlations between certain images and words, while they were neuroimaging monitored. The neuroimaging scan traced certain areas of the brain with blood flow and revealed which cerebral areas responded during and after the task.
The results were surprising. Even though the individuals with Wernicke’s were considered to be deeply affected, the researchers discovered that in their case, their brains responded more than the others’ brains. The most important thing is the fact that many of the intensified neural response were located in the area of the brain which deals with recognizing objects, people, words and facts.
Dr. Holly Robson, from the University of Reading’s Department of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences and also the author of the study said that “the results of this study have the potential to turn the tide in the fight against Wernicke’s aphasia. Successful treatment for Wernicke’s aphasia has proved elusive. There are many types of aphasia which makes these conditions very hard to identify and research so group studies like this are a big step forward.”
On the other hand, those from the Stroke Association state that they were “delighted that Dr Robson, a Stroke Association-funded Fellow, is leading this novel research.”