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date: 12 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The study of patients with acquired aphasias has formed the bedrock of investigations into the neural basis of language for over 150 years. Three main approaches are typically employed. First, patterns of impaired and spared language processes can be carefully characterized in individual patients in order to make inferences about the functional architecture of the normal language system. Second, groups of individuals sharing a clinical syndrome or feature (e.g., Broca’s aphasia, semantic dementia, apraxia of speech) can be investigated so as to better understand the nature of the syndrome or feature, and potentially the role of brain regions associated with it. Third, damaged brain regions can be quantified using magnetic resonance imaging, autopsy, or other methods, and associations can be identified between damage to particular brain regions and resulting language deficits. Inferences can then be made regarding the normal function of these brain regions. There are many challenges to studying patients with acquired aphasias. For instance, lesions are rarely isolated to just a single brain area, and language deficits are rarely isolated to a single language domain or process, making it difficult to disentangle relationships between brain regions and language functions. Furthermore, many patients recover over time and/or may rely on compensatory processes, which can further complicate the interpretation of lesion-deficit relationships. Despite these challenges, studies of patients with acquired aphasias remain crucial to the field of neurolinguistics. Advances in neuroimaging and psycholinguistic assessment are improving researchers’ ability to quantify brain damage and language deficits, respectively, and are leading to new insights into the neural basis of language.

Keywords: aphasia, computational model, brain, lesion-symptom mapping, modality, modularity, network, neuroimaging, neuropsychology

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