Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society


Task-dependent changes in brain activation following therapy for nonfluent aphasia: Discussion of two individual cases

LEORA R.  CHERNEY  a1 a2 c1 and STEVEN L.  SMALL  a3
a1 Center for Aphasia Research, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
a2 Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
a3 The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Article author query
cherney lr   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
small sl   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


The complex process of cortical reorganization of language-related brain regions during recovery from aphasia and the effects of therapeutic interventions on brain systems are poorly understood. We studied two patients with chronic aphasia and compared their functional neuroanatomical responses to a younger control group on two tasks, an oral-reading task involving overt speech and a “passive” audiovisual story-comprehension task. Following identical therapy, we re-examined behavioral (language) and functional neuroanatomical changes using the same functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) tasks. We hypothesized that better recovery would be associated with brain activation patterns more closely resembling healthy controls, whereas positive responses to language treatment would be associated with increased activity in undamaged left perisylvian areas and/or right-hemisphere areas homologous to the damaged regions. For the participant with a frontal lesion who was most responsive to therapy, brain activation increased in the right hemisphere during oral-reading, but decreased bilaterally in most regions on story-comprehension. The other participant with a temporal–parietal lesion showed decreased activation, particularly in the right hemisphere, during oral-reading but increased activation bilaterally on story-comprehension. Results highlight individual variability following language therapy, with brain activation changes depending on lesion site and size, language skill, type of intervention, and the nature of the fMRI task. (JINS, 2006, 12, 828–842.)

(Received January 10 2006)
(Revised July 7 2006)
(Accepted July 10 2006)

Key Words: Aphasia; Neuroimaging; fMRI; Rehabilitation; Recovery; Language therapy.

c1 Correspondence and reprint requests to: Leora R. Cherney, Ph.D., Center for Aphasia Research, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 345 East Superior Street, Chicago, IL 60611, USA. E-mail: