"This is the first demonstration that learning and, by extension, speech therapy change the way compensatory pathways in the brain work," says Maurizio Corbetta, M.D., head of stroke and brain injury rehabilitation. "This study supports the hypothesis that brain pathways in the right hemisphere are directly involved in the recovery of language after stroke."
The study appears in the Sept. 26 issue of the journal Neuron. Corbetta, the study's senior author, also is associate professor of neurology, of radiology and of anatomy and neurobiology. The first author is Valeria Blasi, M.D., a former post-doctoral fellow in neurology at the School of Medicine, who now is at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy.
Each year, about 750,000 Americans suffer a loss of blood flow to the brain, a condition known as an ischemic stroke. Since the left side of the brain houses most of the areas responsible for speech and language, a left-sided stroke often causes language problems, a condition known as aphasia. About 1 million people in the United States have aphasia, resulting in an estimated $1.5 billion of lost productivity and other costs each year.
Remarkably, many of those who initially lose language abilities after a stroke significantly recover these abilities within six to 12 months. Several studies suggest that language recovery occurs because the right hemisphere of the brain compensates for the loss of the left hemisphere. For exampl
Contact: Gila Z. Reckess
Washington University School of Medicine