Aphasia is by itself the loss of capacity for spoken and written language skills.  Communication for spoken language is peculiar to human beings, being differentially in the left hemisphere and correlating with anatomical asymmetries (frontal and temporal lobes).

Aphasia is a common symptom in clinical neurology, often a result of a stroke whose location generally occurs near the middle left cerebral artery or in the area next to the region of the brain responsible for language. Others may be caused by infections and degenerative manifestations at sites compromising the area specified.

There are peculiarities that distinguish afasias that give the doctor a determination of the topography of the region affected, regardless of the cause, so we can divide them into:

Broca's aphasia

Broca's aphasia is characterized by great difficulty in talking, but the understanding of language is preserved. This syndrome is also referred to as non-fluent aphasia, with speech or motor skills:  patients can normally do silent reading, but writing is compromised. These patients have hemifacial and right upper limb weakness (due to the proximity of the regions affected by a circulatory disorder). Patients are aware of their deficit and depress with ease (frustration). However, the prognosis is good for the recovery of part of spoken language, although they need months to perform a simple abbreviated speech, albeit not fluently.

Wernicke's aphasia

The Wernicke's aphasia is characterized by difficulty in comprehension of language, speech is fluent and makes little sense. This syndrome is also called fluent aphasia in sensory reception. Unlike patients with Broca's aphasia, patients with this syndrome begin to speak spontaneously, though vaguely, fleeing the purpose of conversation. Parafasias may exist, i.e. one word replacing another, calling a fork a spoon (parafasia), or one sound replacing another.  Generally, it does not have associated weakness, patients do not realize their deficit and recovery is more difficult.

Conduction aphasia

In conduction aphasia, understanding is relatively preserved and speech is fluent and spontaneous. There is, however, the inability to repeat words correctly.

Global Aphasia

Global aphasia is loss of all language skills:  comprehension, speaking, reading and writing, and is usually caused by a myocardial infarction in the middle left cerebral artery area; patients, therefore, also present with right side hemiplegia generally (total loss of power on the right side of the body), in addition to dementia - related; the prognosis is more guarded.

Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova


Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey