Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Looking at how aphasia affects speech and writing - but again, NOT intelligence

Don't read too much into the study itself, since the group studied just five people with aphasia - a language disorder that often strikes stroke patients - but I can certainly relate to many of these experiences.

Bumper sticker image from U.S. Veterans Affairs
One of my own quirky problems revolved around pronouns - he/she or her/him, for example. I would frequently misspeak them - calling a she a he or saying him when I meant her. That problem has pretty much resolved itself, but it was very frustrating at the time.

So if you know someone who had some of the problems described below - or you have had a problem like this yourself - know that you are definitely not alone. And, as I've said repeatedly, aphasia does not decrease intelligence.

So read how the brain separates our ability to talk and write:
The team, which included Simon Fischer-Baum of Rice University and Michele Miozzo of Columbia University, both cognitive scientists, studied five stroke victims with aphasia, or difficulty communicating. Four of them had difficulties writing sentences with the proper suffixes, but had few problems speaking the same sentences. The last individual had the opposite problem -- trouble with speaking but unaffected writing.
The researchers showed the individuals pictures and asked them to describe the action. One person would say, "The boy is walking," but write, "the boy is walked." Or another would say, "Dave is eating an apple" and then write, "Dave is eats an apple."
The findings reveal that writing and speaking are supported by different parts of the brain -- and not just in terms of motor control in the hand and mouth, but in the high-level aspects of word construction.
"We found that the brain is not just a 'dumb' machine that knows about letters and their order, but that it is 'smart' and sophisticated and knows about word parts and how they fit together," Rapp said. "When you damage the brain, you might damage certain morphemes but not others in writing but not speaking, or vice versa."

No comments: