Neurocognitive recovery of sentence processing in aphasia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: Reorganization of language networks in aphasia takes advantage of the facts that (a) the brain is an organ of plasticity, with neuronal changes occurring throughout the life span, including following brain damage; (b) plasticity is highly experience dependent; and (c) as with any learning system, language reorganization involves a synergistic interplay between organism-intrinsic (i.e., cognitive and brain) and organism-extrinsic (i.e., environmental) variables. A major goal for clinical treatment of aphasia is to be able to prescribe treatment and predict its outcome based on the neurocognitive deficit profiles of individual patients. This review article summarizes the results of research examining the neurocognitive effects of psycholinguistically based treatment (i.e., Treatment of Underlying Forms; Thompson & Shapiro, 2005) for sentence processing impairments in individuals with chronic agrammatic aphasia resulting from stroke and primary progressive aphasia and addresses both behavioral and brain variables related to successful treatment outcomes. The influences of lesion volume and location, perfusion (blood flow), and resting-state neural activity on language recovery are also discussed as related to recovery of agrammatism and other language impairments. Based on these and other data, principles for promoting neuroplasticity of language networks are presented. Conclusions: Sentence processing treatment results in improved comprehension and production of complex syntactic structures in chronic agrammatism and generalization to less complex, linguistically related structures in chronic agrammatism. Patients also show treatment-induced shifts toward normal-like online sentence processing routines (based on eye movement data) and changes in neural recruitment patterns (based on functional neuroimaging), with posttreatment activation of regions overlapping with those within sentence processing and dorsal attention networks engaged by neurotypical adults performing the same task. These findings provide compelling evidence that treatment focused on principles of neuroplasticity promotes neurocognitive recovery in chronic agrammatic aphasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3947-3972
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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