Language Problems and Assessment: The Aphasic Patient



The singularly most uniquely human attribute is language. Such a bold statement is difficult to make, but profoundly true. Many species possess communication skill and communication among some species is elaborate and facilitates complex social relationships and interactions; however, the extent and sophistication of human use of representational language is truly unique. Language is so intertwined into what it is to be human that its complexity is often overlooked as a prerequisite skill in neuropsychological assessment.

At its simplest, language can be conceptualized as expressive and receptive language functions. While typically residing in the left hemisphere (referred to as the dominant hemisphere because of the propensity of language to develop even if damage occurs to normal language centers), bilateral representation and right hemisphere representation of language occurs both naturally and secondarily in response to early cerebral injury that affects the typically dominant left hemisphere (see (Table 7.1) for relative frequencies of hemispheric language dominance). See also Chaps. 3 and 12.

The evaluation of the patient with language deficits first requires a review of the assessment of language and the definition of some terms. We will first review the basic aspects to evaluate speech and define terms describing different types of speech problems. We will then return to evaluating various speech problems commonly encountered in the clinic.


Expressive Language Language Function Receptive Language Angular Gyrus Language Deficit 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA

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