Broca’s aphasia: Journeys to the brain-12

Broca’s aphasia takes away the ability to speak and understand. This problem manifests due to the death of neurons in Broca’s area. You can read more about the Broca’s area in the Broca’s area: Journeys to the brain-11

How Broca’s aphasia occurs after a stroke

Stroke – more commonly due to a blood clot – disrupts the blood supply to the brain at the speed of light; the clot plugs the anterior branch of the middle cerebral artery cutting off blood supply to the Broca’s area. Due to the lack of oxygen as a result of this blockade, neurons in the region begin to die en masse like trees engulfed in a massive wildfire – 32,000 neurons per second! This emergency situation, like a blow to the head, results in this speech problem.

What do really happens here?

Remember Paul Broca’s first patient? – Mr. Leborgne who was named as “Monsieur tan”?. He was able to say only one word – “tan”. As in the case of “monsieur tan”, those with Broca’s aphasia do not lose speech completely; they cannot talk now as they used; because, the neurons who did the job are no more there.

Let us find out what those with Broca’s aphasia can and cannot – or difficult – to do. These problems become more pronounced when the block happens on the left side of the brain. First, we start with what they can do.

What those with Broca’s aphasia can do

  • They can hear.
  • They can read.
  • They can understand simple – not complex – instructions.

What they cannot (or difficult) to do  

  • Talk only less than 4 – 5 words at a time
  • They can talk simulating telegraphic speech.
  • The sentences lack grammatical sense – both in talking and writing.
  • Use nouns without verbs.
  • Have difficulty in repeating.
  • Can’t respond to complex instructions: for example, touch nose after touching toes.

Do you want to know what Broca’s aphasia looks like? Watch this YouTube video.

What is the usefulness of knowing these things?

  • What they can or cannot do within a few days after the stroke helps to predict the area/s of the brain affected, where neurons are dying as highlighted in the paper authored by Elisa Oschfeld et al.
  • The brains of many with Broca’s aphasia do not allow them to live with those problems long; recovery can be immediate due to the restoration of blood flow as shown by Cameron Davis and their research team.
  • Or else, it may happen later possibly due to the execution of the brains’ plan B – reorganizing adjacent neurons to take over the dead neurons’ job as speculated in the paper authored by Elisa Oschfeld et al..

Author: Prasantha De Silva

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