Abstract

Two patients with residual nonfluent aphasia after ischemic stroke received an intention treatment that was designed to shift intention and language production mechanisms from the frontal lobe of the damaged left hemisphere to the right frontal lobe. Consistent with experimental hypotheses, the first patient showed improvement on the intention treatment but not on a similar attention treatment. In addition, in keeping with experimental hypotheses, the patient showed a shift of activity to right presupplementary motor area and the right lateral frontal lobe from pre-to post-intention treatment functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of language production. In contrast, the second patient showed improvement on both the intention and attention treatments. During pre-treatment fMRI, she already showed lateralization of intention and language production mechanisms to the right hemisphere that continued into post-intention treatment imaging. From pre-to post-treatment fMRI of language production, both patients demonstrated increased activity in the posterior perisylvian cortex, although this activity was lateralized to left-hemisphere language areas in the second but not the first patient. The fact that the first patient's lesion encompassed almost all of the dominant basal ganglia and thalamus whereas the second patient's lesion spared these structures suggests that the dominant basal ganglia could play a role in spontaneous reorganization of language production functions to the right hemisphere. Implications regarding the theoretical framework for the intention treatment are discussed.

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