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2018 ASHA Research Symposium: Cynthia K. Thompson, Recovery of Sentence Processing in Aphasia

posted on 07.01.2020 by Cynthia K. Thompson
This presentation video is from the Research Symposium at the 2018 annual convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association held in Boston, MA.

The abstract for the accompanying article is below. This article is part of the JSLHR Forum: Advances in Neuroplasticity Research on Language Recovery in Aphasia.

Purpose: Reorganization of language networks in aphasia takes advantage of the facts that (a) the brain is an organ of plasticity, with neuronal changes occurring throughout the life span, including following brain damage; (b) plasticity is highly experience dependent; and (c) as with any learning system, language reorganization involves a synergistic interplay between organism-intrinsic (i.e., cognitive and brain) and organism-extrinsic (i.e., environmental) variables. A major goal for clinical treatment of aphasia is to be able to prescribe treatment and predict its outcome based on the neurocognitive deficit profiles of individual patients. This review article summarizes the results of research examining the neurocognitive effects of psycholinguistically based treatment (i.e., Treatment of Underlying Forms; Thompson & Shapiro, 2005) for sentence processing impairments in individuals with chronic agrammatic aphasia resulting from stroke and primary progressive aphasia and addresses both behavioral and brain variables related to successful treatment outcomes. The influences of lesion volume and location, perfusion (blood flow), and resting-state neural activity on language recovery are also discussed as related to recovery of agrammatism and other language impairments. Based on these and other data, principles for promoting neuroplasticity of language networks are presented.
Conclusions: Sentence processing treatment results in improved comprehension and production of complex syntactic structures in chronic agrammatism and generalization to less complex, linguistically related structures in chronic agrammatism. Patients also show treatment-induced shifts toward normal-like online sentence processing routines (based on eye movement data) and changes in neural recruitment patterns (based on functional neuroimaging), with posttreatment activation of regions overlapping with those within sentence processing and dorsal attention networks engaged by neurotypical adults performing the same task. These findings provide compelling evidence that treatment focused on principles of neuroplasticity promotes neurocognitive recovery in chronic agrammatic aphasia.

Thompson, C. K. (2019). Neurocognitive recovery of sentence processing in aphasia. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62(11), 3947–3972. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_JSLHR-L-RSNP-19-0219


The work reported here would not have been possible without the support of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (Grants R01DC01948-1-20, RO1DC008552- 11-15, P50DC012283, RO1DC007213, R03DC013386-01A1, R21DC010036, and R21DC007377), which has funded my work since 1992, and other funding agencies (i.e., the McDonnell-Pew Foundation, Program in Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Education, National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development).