Aphasia – When Language Goes Wrong

a·pha·sia ˈfāZHə/

Loss of ability to understand or express speech, caused by brain damage.

I thought I’d explain in this post why it is that I’m fascinated with the phenomenon that is aphasia. The main reason it’s so interesting is that it can manifest itself in very different ways. Aphasia is a result of brain injury, most commonly strokes, head trauma or neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s. So the effects observed in language depend on which part of the brain’s language areas were damaged; yet, not even this is necessarily consistent or predictable. Some of the stranger and more surprising effects can be seen in bilingual patients who can regain the use of one language but not the other, inadvertently switch language or communicate using a mixture of the two languages. Continue reading


UK Government’s Dementia Challenge: what does this mean for Alzheimer’s?

This month, PM David Cameron announced a new scheme to raise awareness of dementia and its symptoms. Dementia Friends is a £2.4 million project funded by the Social Fund and the Department of Health [1] and led by the Alzheimer’s Society.  Can this big budget programme find a cure for Alzheimer’s?

The scheme aims to recruit 1 million volunteers by 2015 to aid people who live with dementia and change the way we think of it as a nation. These volunteers will be trained to spot the first signs of dementia, as well as providing a network and community to help people who suffer from the disease to feel more understood and integrated in society as the stigma is removed. No, this will not cure Alzheimer’s, but it is the first of several measures to come as part of the government’s Dementia Challenge.

But first, what exactly is dementia? Continue reading

Recovery Patterns in Bilingual Aphasia: Influential Factors & Cross-Language Transfer

Over 2/3 of the world’s population speak more than one language, generating interest in the field of bilingual aphasia and particularly its recovery. Among the many theories on recovery patterns, it is widely accepted that parallel recovery of a bilingual’s languages is the most common (i.e. both languages recover at the same rate). Of those cases of nonparallel recovery, the oldest theories on which language recovers best are the first language (Ribot’s law) or the dominantly used language (Pitres’ law). This review discusses the evidence for these theories in addition to considering influential factors of recovery, and exploring whether therapy in one language can transfer to untreated languages.

Read the full literature review here: Recovery Patterns in Bilingual Aphasia