Aprosodia: types and symptoms of this language deficit

Speech has its rhythm and its time. When we speak, we don’t just let go of an idea, but we separate the words, we give ourselves more emphasis, and we structure our speech. We pause and give it an intonation and melody that makes communication an understandable flow of information in different ways. This stems from a lot of aspects, including emotionality and sense of rhythm.

Prosody can be trained and usually acquires more richness and skill as we learn. But some people, for different reasons, fail to achieve this learning or even if they have it, they lose it as a result of some kind of brain injury. These people present aprosodia, Speech phenomenon which can cause communication difficulties. Let’s see what it is.

    What is an aprosody?

    A body is considered to be a deficit or an inability to understand and / or produce changes in tone of voice, rhythm, or intonation. It is an alteration of one of the main paraverbal aspects of language, that is to say one of the elements that allow to vary the acoustics of the message that we provide and which can have several effects on the proper message.

    Since prosody helps to give information an emotional meaning, to qualify or even to imply the opposite of what is being expressed, and also makes the message much more understandable for the recipient, one can consider that a person having an aposody showed an inability to reflect in her voice. his emotions, regulate the tone of voice or control the beats and rhythms of speech, Making his speech much more difficult to interpret.

    Your post will turn out to be much flatter, not knowing exactly what you want to emphasize, unless you say so explicitly. In short, the speech of a person with body pain tends to be monotonous and neutral. In some cases, it may not separate words or sentences well, making it even more difficult to understand.

    It will also be harder or harder for you to understand things like changes in other people’s voices and what that might mean for the message. There may be difficulty in capturing emotions. But we are not dealing with subjects which do not have the capacity to express their thoughts or which do not have emotions.

    They are also not people who must have an intellectual disability or neurodevelopmental disorder (although it is common for this to appear in some of them). They just can’t print in their language intonation, rhythm and emotional significance what others are doing.

    As a problem that affects communication, it can have different effects on the victim’s life. Although in itself, this is usually not a serious limitation that prevents social participation or the execution of any action, the person can be seen as cold and strange. Their way of expressing themselves can lead to misunderstandings and discussions, and can lead to a kind of social rejection or even to difficulties at the work level. Avoidance is likely on the part of the party concerned to initiate or hold conversations.

    Body types

    Not all subjects with aprosody have the same difficulties. In fact, at the time the concept was proposed, the existence of different typologies was also proposed depending on the location of the affected brain. Considering this aspect, we can find different typologies, but three main types stand out.

    1. Sensory approach

    In this type of approach, the problem arises at the level of understanding. The subject has serious difficulties regarding understand and process changes in the rhythms and intonation of othersIt can be difficult to recognize the emotions of the recipients.

    2. Motor aposody

    In this type of aprosody the problem is fundamentally with the expression: as we said above, the subject he has a monotonous language and a lack of emotionality, Not being able to modulate the voice correctly so that it offers information beyond the content of the message in question and / or not mastering the rhythm. They also often show a certain silence, facial stiffness and lack of gestures.

    3. Mixed approach

    In this case, the two previous types of difficulties occur together.

    What are its causes?

    The causes of aprosody can be multiple, but can usually be found in the presence of neurological alterations or injuries.

    Various research indicates that these lesions are generally found in the temporal and parietal lobes of the right hemisphere of the brain, related to emotional expression and the use of rhythm. More precisely, the damage would correspond mainly to the area of ​​Broca and to the area of ​​Wernicke of this hemisphere. It is a very common disorder in the clinical population, especially in those who have some type of aphasic problem.

    These injuries can occur due to several conditions. It is common for traumatic brain injury, Stroke or neurodegenerative processes such as dementia (eg, it is common in dementias caused by Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease).

    It is also common and very characteristic of people with autism spectrum disorders. Likewise, aprosody is associated with the consumption of substances such as alcohol, such as in subjects dependent on this substance or in subjects with fetal alcohol syndrome. Finally, it can appear in mental disorders such as schizophrenia, or in some cases in people who have suffered severe trauma.

    possible treatments

    The aprosody approach is generally multidisciplinary. It should be noted that in most cases we are talking about the consequence of brain damage, so we must first consider what caused it.

    One of the main strategies is to apply speech therapy and treatment techniques using modeling and mimicry techniques to reduce their communication limits. It is also common to use biofeedback, especially in the engine type. Working on emotional expression through different avenues can also be very helpful. Psychoeducation and information are also important so that the person and the environment can understand what is happening and know how to wear and understand it.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Ardila, A .; Arocho, JL; Labos, I. and Rodríguez, W. (2015). Dictionary of neuropsychology.
    • Leon, SA and Rodríguez, AD (sf). Aprosodia and its treatment. American Speech Language Hearing Association. Florida.
    • Stringer, AY (1996). Treatment of motor aposody with biofeedback and expression modeling. Brain Injection, 10, 583-590.

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