Increased Recruitment of Domain-General Neural Networks in Language Processing Following Intensive Language-Action Therapy: fMRI Evidence From People With Chronic Aphasia

Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2021 Feb 11;30(1S):455-465. doi: 10.1044/2020_AJSLP-19-00150. Epub 2020 Aug 24.


Purpose This study aimed to provide novel insights into the neural correlates of language improvement following intensive language-action therapy (ILAT; also known as constraint-induced aphasia therapy). Method Sixteen people with chronic aphasia underwent clinical aphasia assessment (Aachen Aphasia Test [AAT]), as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), both administered before (T1) and after ILAT (T2). The fMRI task included passive reading of single written words, with hashmark strings as visual baseline. Results Behavioral results indicated significant improvements of AAT scores across therapy, and fMRI results showed T2-T1 blood oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signal change in the left precuneus to be modulated by the degree of AAT score increase. Subsequent region-of-interest analysis of this precuneus cluster confirmed a positive correlation of T2-T1 BOLD signal change and improvement on the clinical aphasia test. Similarly, the entire default mode network revealed a positive correlation between T2-T1 BOLD signal change and clinical language improvement. Conclusion These results are consistent with a more efficient recruitment of domain-general neural networks in language processing, including those involved in attentional control, following aphasia therapy with ILAT. Supplemental Material

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aphasia* / diagnosis
  • Aphasia* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Language Therapy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Stroke* / complications
  • Stroke* / diagnosis
  • Stroke* / therapy