Delineation of single-word semantic comprehension deficits in aphasia, with anatomical correlation

Ann Neurol. 1990 Mar;27(3):226-31. doi: 10.1002/ana.410270303.


In 3 of 18 aphasic patients pure deficits in semantic comprehension at the single-word level were defined through a series of tasks that excluded possible confounding deficits in auditory perception, visual perception, or speech production. In these pure cases, deficits were found at the superordinate, equivalence, and subordinate levels of single-word semantic processing. Pure semantic deficits were found to be correlated with damage to the left posterior temporal and inferior parietal region; patients whose damage spared this area did not evince such deficits, and the converse was also true. This study confirms the existence of separable deficits in semantic comprehension and points conclusively to the left posterior temporal and inferior parietal region as being critical for semantic processing. This anatomical localization is in keeping with anatomical studies from nonhuman primates, suggesting that these regions may be concerned with multimodal processing and integration of language.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aphasia / complications*
  • Aphasia / diagnostic imaging
  • Aphasia / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Language Disorders / etiology*
  • Language Disorders / physiopathology
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed