Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Pure Word Deafness

  • Kate KrivalEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_918


Acoustic aphasia; Verbal auditory agnosia; Word deafness; Word sound deafness


Pure word deafness (PWD) is a rare, acquired, neurological disorder characterized by severely impaired comprehension of spoken language in the presence of intact written language comprehension, spontaneous verbal production, written expression and environmental sound recognition, as well as normal pure tone hearing thresholds.


PWD is a rare syndrome. It is most often observed acutely in association with cerebrovascular accident, but may occur due to traumatic brain injury, tumor, primary progressive aphasia, frontotemporal dementia, seizures, and other trauma. Even early accounts generally assumed the malady was due to brain lesion, though not universally. In 1907, Pierre Janet described a case of “hysterical word deafness” in a teenage girl who had typhoid fever at age 12 and became “nervous,” exhibited episodes of “sleeping” with her eyes open even while sewing, and...

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References and Readings

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Speech Pathology, School of Health SciencesEdinboro University of PennsylvaniaEdinboroUSA