Rehabilitative measures for stroke are not generally based on basic neurobiological principles, despite evidence from animal models that certain anatomical and pharmacological changes correlate with recovery. In this report, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study in vivo human brain reorganization in a right handed patient with an acquired reading disorder from stroke. With phonological dyslexia, her whole-word (lexical) reading approach included inability to read nonwords and poor reading of function words. Following therapy, she was able to read nonwords and function words, and preferred a decompositional (sub-lexical) strategy in general. fMRI was performed during a reading task before and after treatment. Prior to therapy, her main focus of brain activation was in the left angular gyrus (area 39). After therapy, it was instead in the left lingual gyrus (area 18). This result suggests first that it is possible to alter brain physiology with therapy for acquired language disorders, and second, that two reading strategies commonly used in normal reading use distinct neural circuits, possibly reconciling several conflicting neuroimaging studies of reading.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.