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Intensive training for aphasia: Even older patients can improve
Date:1/8/2013

This release is available in French.

Older adults who have suffered from aphasia for a long time can nevertheless improve their language function and maintain these improvements in the long term, according to a study by Dr. Ana Ins Ansaldo, PhD, a researcher at the Research Centre of the Institut universitaire de griatrie de Montral (University Geriatrics Institute of Montreal) and a professor in the School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the Faculty of Medicine of Universit de Montral. The study was published in Brain and Language.

After six weeks of intensive and specific language therapy, seniors with aphasia demonstrated better performance at naming objects along with better cognitive potential. "The evidence collected in this functional neuroimaging study shows that language therapy stimulates the brain to use alternate circuits. These new circuits remain active after therapy and can help the person recover additional words. Performance was equivalent six months after the study, and family members told us that they could still see improvements at this point," explained Dr. Ansaldo.

This training not only stimulates the circuits that deal with language but also integrates another major brain system called the default mode network. This network is characterized by activity when the brain is "on standby" and not focused on performing a particular task. For the first time, this study describes the activity of this network in people with aphasia, and points out irregularities associated with this language impairment. Abnormal functioning in the default network has been associated with cognitive deficits, such as attention or episodic memory disorders. The study showed that following speech-therapy, connectivity in the default mode in aphasic subjects reached a similar level to that of the healthy control subjects after th
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Contact: William Raillant-Clark
w.raillant-clark@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

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