thinking about the brain

May 11, 2008

http://www.medem.com/MedLB/article_detaillb.cfm?article_ID=ZZZ0ZFP46JC&sub_cat=75#WERNICKE\'S%20AREA

source: http://www.medem.com/MedLB/article_detaillb.cfm?article_ID=ZZZ0ZFP46JC&sub_cat=75#WERNICKE’S%20AREA

We’ve been thinking about the brain as we prepare for Night Sky — looking at images, trying to comprehend aphasia. A good description of aphasia can be found here http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/aphasia.asp

 

Aphasia is caused by damage to one or more of the language areas of the brain. Many times, the cause of the brain injury is a stroke. A stroke occurs when, for some reason, blood is unable to reach a part of the brain. Brain cells die when they do not receive their normal supply of blood, which carries oxygen and important nutrients. Other causes of brain injury are severe blows to the head, brain tumors, brain infections, and other conditions of the brain.

Individuals with Broca’s aphasia have damage to the frontal lobe of the brain. These individuals frequently speak in short, meaningful phrases that are produced with great effort. Broca’s aphasia is thus characterized as a nonfluent aphasia. Affected people often omit small words such as “is,” “and,” and “the.” For example, a person with Broca’s aphasia may say, “Walk dog” meaning, “I will take the dog for a walk.” The same sentence could also mean “You take the dog for a walk,” or “The dog walked out of the yard,” depending on the circumstances. Individuals with Broca’s aphasia are able to understand the speech of others to varying degrees. Because of this, they are often aware of their difficulties and can become easily frustrated by their speaking problems. Individuals with Broca’s aphasia often have right-sided weakness or paralysis of the arm and leg because the frontal lobe is also important for body movement.

In contrast to Broca’s aphasia, damage to the temporal lobe may result in a fluent aphasia that is called Wernicke’s aphasia. Individuals with Wernicke’s aphasia may speak in long sentences that have no meaning, add unnecessary words, and even create new “words.” For example, someone with Wernicke’s aphasia may say, “You know that smoodle pinkered and that I want to get him round and take care of him like you want before,” meaning “The dog needs to go out so I will take him for a walk.” Individuals with Wernicke’s aphasia usually have great difficulty understanding speech and are therefore often unaware of their mistakes. These individuals usually have no body weakness because their brain injury is not near the parts of the brain that control movement.

A third type of aphasia, global aphasia, results from damage to extensive portions of the language areas of the brain. Individuals with global aphasia have severe communication difficulties and may be extremely limited in their ability to speak or comprehend language.

 

 

 

 

In San Diego, a good resource for support and information about brain injury is The San Diego Brain Injury Foundation. You can find them here: www.sdbif.org.

 

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