Functional re-recruitment of dysfunctional brain areas predicts language recovery in chronic aphasia

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Functional recovery in response to a brain lesion, such as a stroke, can even occur years after the incident and may be accelerated by effective rehabilitation strategies. In eleven chronic aphasia patients, we administered a short-term intensive language training to improve language functions and to induce cortical reorganization under rigorously controlled conditions. Overt naming performance was assessed during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) prior to and immediately after the language training. Regions of interest (ROIs) for statistical analyses were constituted by areas with individually determined abnormally high densities of slow wave generators (identified by magnetoencephalography prior to the language intervention) that clustered mainly in left perilesional areas. Three additional individually defined regions served to control for the specificity of the results for the selected respective target region: the homologue area of the individual patient's lesion, the mirror image of the delta ROI in the right hemisphere and left hemispheric regions that did not produce a significant amount of slow wave activity. Treatment-induced changes of fMRI brain activation were highly correlated with improved naming of the trained pictures, but selectively within the pre-training dysfunctional perilesional brain areas. Our results suggest that remodeling of cortical functions is possible even years after a stroke. The behavioral gain seems to be mediated by brain regions that had been partially deprived from input after the initial stroke. We therefore provide first time direct evidence for the importance of treatment-induced functional reintegration of perilesional areas in a heterogeneous sample of chronic aphasia patients.

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150 Psychologie
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stroke, aphasia, fMRI, language disorder, treatment
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ISO 690MEINZER, Marcus, Tobias FLAISCH, Caterina BREITENSTEIN, Christian WIENBRUCH, Thomas ELBERT, Brigitte ROCKSTROH, 2008. Functional re-recruitment of dysfunctional brain areas predicts language recovery in chronic aphasia. In: NeuroImage. 2008, 39(4), pp. 2038-2046. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.10.008
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@article{Meinzer2008Funct-11129,
  year={2008},
  doi={10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.10.008},
  title={Functional re-recruitment of dysfunctional brain areas predicts language recovery in chronic aphasia},
  number={4},
  volume={39},
  journal={NeuroImage},
  pages={2038--2046},
  author={Meinzer, Marcus and Flaisch, Tobias and Breitenstein, Caterina and Wienbruch, Christian and Elbert, Thomas and Rockstroh, Brigitte}
}
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