Structural disconnections associated with language impairments in chronic post-stroke aphasia using disconnectome maps

Anne Billot*, Michel Thiebaut de Schotten, Todd B. Parrish, Cynthia K. Thompson, Brenda Rapp, David Caplan, Swathi Kiran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Inconsistent findings have been reported about the impact of structural disconnections on language function in post-stroke aphasia. This study investigated patterns of structural disconnections associated with chronic language impairments using disconnectome maps. Seventy-six individuals with post-stroke aphasia underwent a battery of language assessments and a structural MRI scan. Support-vector regression disconnectome-symptom mapping analyses were performed to examine the correlations between disconnectome maps, representing the probability of disconnection at each white matter voxel and different language scores. To further understand whether significant disconnections were primarily representing focal damage or a more extended network of seemingly preserved but disconnected areas beyond the lesion site, results were qualitatively compared to support-vector regression lesion-symptom mapping analyses. Part of the left white matter perisylvian network was similarly disconnected in 90% of the individuals with aphasia. Surrounding this common left perisylvian disconnectome, specific structural disconnections in the left fronto-temporo-parietal network were significantly associated with aphasia severity and with lower performance in auditory comprehension, syntactic comprehension, syntactic production, repetition and naming tasks. Auditory comprehension, repetition and syntactic processing deficits were related to disconnections in areas that overlapped with and extended beyond lesion sites significant in SVR-LSM analyses. In contrast, overall language abilities as measured by aphasia severity and naming seemed to be mostly explained by focal damage at the level of the insular and central opercular cortices, given the high overlap between SVR-DSM and SVR-LSM results for these scores. While focal damage seems to be sufficient to explain broad measures of language performance, the structural disconnections between language areas provide additional information on the neural basis of specific and persistent language impairments at the chronic stage beyond lesion volume. Leveraging routinely available clinical data, disconnectome mapping furthers our understanding of anatomical connectivity constraints that may limit the recovery of some language abilities in chronic post-stroke aphasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-106
Number of pages17
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Aphasia
  • Disconnection
  • Mapping
  • Stroke
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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