Broca’s aphasia: symptoms and causes of this disorder

Since the brain controls or supervises a large part of our body’s functions, damage to different regions of this structure can cause a wide variety of alterations. Aphasias are a type of language disorder that occurs as a result of damage to areas of the brain related to language.

In this article we will describe symptoms and causes of Broca’s aphasia, Expressive, driving or productive. This neuropsychological disorder involves the alteration of expressive language as a result of damage to the frontal lobe, although auditory comprehension is not necessarily affected, as in other types of aphasia.

    What is aphasia

    Aphasias are language disorders that appear due to injury in certain areas of the brain, mainly due to head trauma and stroke, also called heart attacks or strokes. The term is based on classical Greek and translates to “inability to speak”.

    There are different types of aphasia characterized by idiosyncratic combinations of alterations in four linguistic domains: verbal comprehension, oral expression, functional communication and literacy. Most of them share the presence of anomie, which is a persistent difficulty in retrieving words from memory.

    Other common signs and symptoms of aphasia are speech and comprehension deficits, reduced spontaneous language, inability to read and / or write, dysprosody (alterations in the tone and rhythm of speech), and use neologisms (in psychopathology, words that only have meaning for those who say them).

    Hence the aphasias they affect not only spoken language but also written and mime, Including sign language. Indeed, all these forms of communication depend on the same cognitive functions, linked to brain structures and pathways damaged during aphasia.

      Symptoms and signs of Broca’s aphasia

      The basic signs of Broca’s aphasia are related to the production of speech. People with this syndrome have severe difficulty finding words and articulating sentences fluently, and the prosody of speech is also affected, making speech monotonous. Handwriting is also affected.

      In the context of this disorder we often speak of “telegraphic speech” to refer to the way of expressing themselves of those who suffer from it: they stop a lot because they have a lot of difficulty in articulating (or in making gestures) words which are not satisfied, that is to say say that they are communicated mainly by successions of nouns and verbs.

      The intensity of these symptoms depends on the severity of the injury; while in some cases there is only slight anomie, moderate reductions in expressive fluency and the phenomenon of “foreign accent”, in others the person may be unable to pronounce a word. In most cases, the less formulated expressions are at least kept.

      Since the regions related to Broca’s aphasia are involved in motor skills, it’s no surprise that the brain damage that causes it also causes motor signs. Highlights include hemiparesis (paralysis in half of the body), apraxia (deficit in intentional movements) and dysarthria, which affects pronunciation.

      In summary, we can say that the main features of Broca’s aphasia are as follows:

      • Lack of fluency in spontaneous language
      • Written changes
      • Maintain listening and reading comprehension
      • Word repetition deficit
      • Problems memorizing words, such as the names of objects (anomie)
      • Associated motor disorders (dysarthria, apraxia, hemiparesis)

      Causes of this disorder

      Broca’s aphasia occurs as a result of damage to the anterior part of the brain, especially in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere, which plays a more important role than the right in performing movements, including those that are necessary to speaking and writing.

      Although the name of the disorder is associated with the Brodmann zone 44, Known as the “drilling area”Damage limited to this region of the brain causes only mild language and motor symptoms. The most serious manifestations appear when the lesion spreads to surrounding areas, such as the anterior insula, precentral gyrus, and opercular region.

      The most common cause of Broca’s aphasia is ischemic stroke, which involves disruption of blood flow, and therefore oxygen, to a certain area of ​​the brain. In this case, the regions affected by oxygen hypoperfusion are those we mentioned in the previous paragraph.

      Often the brain damage that causes this type of aphasia is due to other reasons; the most common are traumatic brain injury, cerebral hemorrhages, Brain tumors located near areas of the tongue and extradural hematomas (accumulations of blood or other fluids between the meninges and the skull).

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