Task-Based Reorganization of Function After Rehabilitation in Post-Stroke Aphasia

Jeffrey Johnson¹, Swathi Kiran², Kushal Kapse³, Kelly Martin4, Erin Meier5
¹Boston University, ²Boston University, ³Boston University, 4Boston University, 5Boston University

The study of the neural basis of rehabilitation-induced language recovery has received considerable attention. Recent studies targeting word retrieval have highlighted the importance of left hemisphere and perilesional activation as a function of improved picture naming skills after rehabilitation. Here, we examined the locus of language recovery in chronic stroke patients following behavioral language therapy.

This project is part of a larger multi-center project (www.cnlr.northwestern.edu). Eight patients received treatment for naming in two categories; two additional categories served as control categories. Naming performance was established via three baseline naming probes. Treatment was provided for up to 10 weeks and involved naming items, sorting them into superordinate categories, and analyzing their features. Patients received fMRI scans before and immediately following treatment, and three months later. Scan tasks included picture naming and semantic feature verification (SFV).

Six patients improved behaviorally after treatment based on effect size calculations (M = 7.6, range = -2 to 20) and percent change (M=26.5%, range = -7 to 64%). Group activation patterns indicated that patients showed increased activation in bilateral frontal regions for picture naming SFV as a function of rehabilitation. Analyses of individual patterns of activation indicate that most patients show reliable changes in activation as a function of rehabilitation. Analyses of difference sin activation as a function of trained vs. untrained categories are in process.

Preliminary results indicate patterns of activation consistent with our previous studies showing that patients with chronic aphasia recruit traditional language regions for picture naming and SFV.

Keywords: Language Rehabilitation, Aphasia, fMRI


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