Non-fluent aphasia and neural reorganization after speech therapy: insights from human sleep electrophysiology and functional magnetic resonance imaging

Simone Sarasso, Priya Santhanam, Sara Määtta, Rositsa Poryiazova, Fabio Ferrarelli, Giulio Tononi, Steven Small


Stroke is associated with long-term functional deficits. Behavioral interventions are often effective in promoting functional recovery and plastic changes. Recent studies in normal subjects have shown that sleep, and particularly slow wave activity (SWA), is tied to local brain plasticity and may be used as a sensitive marker of local cortical reorganization after stroke. In a pilot study, we assessed the local changes induced by a single exposure to a therapeutic session of IMITATE (Intensive Mouth Imitation and Talking for Aphasia Therapeutic Effects), a behavioral therapy used for recovery in patients with post-stroke aphasia. In addition, we measure brain activity changes with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a language observation task before, during and after the full IMITATE rehabilitative program. Speech production improved both after a single exposure and the full therapy program as measured by the Western Aphasia Battery Repetition subscale. We found that IMITATE induced reorganization in functionally connected speech-relevant areas in the left hemisphere. These preliminary results suggest that sleep hd-EEGs, and the topographical analysis of SWA parameters, is well suited to investigating brain plastic changes underpinning functional recovery in neurological disorders.


Aphasia; Plasticity; Rehabilitation; Sleep

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