Chronic Broca's Aphasia Is Caused by Damage to Broca's and Wernicke's Areas

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Despite being perhaps the most studied form of aphasia, the critical lesion location for Broca's aphasia has long been debated, and in chronic patients, cortical damage often extends far beyond Broca's area. In a group of 70 patients, we examined brain damage associated with Broca's aphasia using voxel-wise lesion-symptom mapping (VLSM). We found that damage to the posterior portion of Broca's area, the pars opercularis, is associated with Broca's aphasia. However, several individuals with other aphasic patterns had considerable damage to pars opercularis, suggesting that involvement of this region is not sufficient to cause Broca's aphasia. When examining only individuals with pars opercularis damage, we found that patients with Broca's aphasia had greater damage in the left superior temporal gyrus (STG; roughly Wernicke's area) than those with other aphasia types. Using discriminant function analysis and logistic regression, based on proportional damage to the pars opercularis and Wernicke's area, to predict whether individuals had Broca's or another types of aphasia, over 95% were classified correctly. Our findings suggest that persons with Broca's aphasia have damage to both Broca's and Wernicke's areas, a conclusion that is incongruent with classical neuropsychology, which has rarely considered the effects of damage to both areas.

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