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Conduction Aphasia: Definition & Treatment

Instructor: Emily Cummins
This lesson goes over conduction aphasia, a language disorder caused by illness or injury to the brain. Read about causes and treatments for this condition and then test your understanding with a quiz.

What is Conduction Aphasia?

Imagine that you could speak mostly fluently but you had a very hard time responding to people when they spoke to you. What if you understood every word someone said to you, but, when asked to repeat it, you couldn't do it? You might be suffering from a condition known as conduction aphasia, which is a language disorder. Let's get a little more specific.

Conduction aphasia is a form of aphasia, which refers to a number of different disorders largely caused by an injury to the brain. These are language disorders and they affect one's ability to speak, or to write, or to understand others, but they do not affect intelligence. In other words, people with aphasia are totally lucid but they have some trouble with language.

People with conduction aphasia can speak pretty fluently, although they sometimes suffer from paraphasia, which means they add in extra words or syllables. For example, if the person means to say, 'I am taking my dog for a walk' they might say instead, 'I am will going to take my dog for a walk'. That's an example of paraphasia.

People with conduction aphasia also have good auditory comprehension, meaning they can understand words that are spoken them. Where the trouble really comes in is with speech repetition, meaning that people with conduction aphasia have a very hard time repeating words back. So, if you ask someone with conduction aphasia to 'repeat after me,' this is very hard, especially the longer and more complex your sentences are.

What Happens in the Brain

We're going to need some terms from anatomy to really understand conduction aphasia.

Generally, this condition is caused by damage to the arcuate fasciculus, which you can think of as a bundle of nerves that connects two parts of your brain. These parts are Broca's area and Wernicke's area. Broca's area is the part of your brain responsible for speech production, and Wernicke's area is the part of your brain responsible for speech comprehension. (In case you're wondering, these areas are named after the people who discovered them.) This might be a bit of a strange analogy, but think of charging your cell phone. If your charger cord is damaged, your phone will not charge, and then it won't really work. So, it's kind of like the arcuate fasciculus is a cord that keeps these two areas charged and working. If it's damaged, one of the areas might not work very well.

speech disorders, aphasia

The left hemisphere of your brain is kind of like your language command center. When there's damage to that area, language is likely to be impaired in some way, whether it's comprehending or producing speech.

aphasia, areas of the brain

This condition can also be caused by lesions on other parts of the brain, or by stroke or traumatic brain injury. So, what happens if you find yourself with conduction aphasia?

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