Neuroscience insights improve neurorehabilitation of poststroke aphasia

Nat Rev Neurol. 2011 Feb;7(2):86-97. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2010.201.


The treatment of aphasias-acquired language disorders-caused by stroke and other neurological conditions has benefitted from insights from neuroscience and neuropsychology. Hebbian mechanisms suggest that massed practice and exploitation of residual neurological capacities can aid neurorehabilitation of patients with poststroke aphasia, and progress in basic neuroscience research indicates that the language system of the human brain is functionally interwoven with perceptual and motor systems. Intensive speech and language therapies, including constraint-induced aphasia therapy, that activate both the linguistic and concordant motor circuits utilize the knowledge gained from these advances in neuroscience research and can lead to surprisingly rapid improvements in language performance, even in patients with chronic aphasia. Drug-based therapies alone and in conjunction with behavioral language therapies also increase language performance in patients with aphasia. Furthermore, noninvasive transcranial magnetic stimulation and electrical stimulation techniques that target neuronal activity within perilesional areas might help patients with aphasia to regain lost language functions. Intensive language-action therapies that lead to rapid improvements in language skills might provide a new opportunity for investigating fast plastic neuronal changes in the areas of the brain associated with language processing. Here, we review progress in basic neuroscience research and its translational impact on the neurorehabilitation of language disorders after stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aphasia / etiology
  • Aphasia / physiopathology
  • Aphasia / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Neurosciences
  • Speech Therapy / methods*
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*