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When right is all that is left: plasticity of right-hemisphere tracts in a young aphasic patient

Authors

  • Lauryn Zipse,

    1. Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston, Massachusetts.
    2. Department of Neurology, Music, Neuroimaging, and Stroke Recovery Laboratory, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Andrea Norton,

    1. Department of Neurology, Music, Neuroimaging, and Stroke Recovery Laboratory, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Sarah Marchina,

    1. Department of Neurology, Music, Neuroimaging, and Stroke Recovery Laboratory, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Gottfried Schlaug

    1. Department of Neurology, Music, Neuroimaging, and Stroke Recovery Laboratory, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
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Gottfried Schlaug, Department of Neurology, Music, Neuroimaging, and Stroke Recovery Laboratory, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Avenue Palmer 127, Boston, MA 02215. gschlaug@bidmc.harvard.edu

Abstract

Using an adapted version of Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT), we treated an adolescent girl with a very large left-hemisphere lesion and severe nonfluent aphasia secondary to an ischemic stroke. At the time of her initial assessment 15 months after her stroke, she had reached a plateau in her recovery despite intense and long-term traditional speech-language therapy (approximately five times per week for more than one year). Following an intensive course of treatment with our adapted form of MIT, her performance improved on both trained and untrained phrases, as well as on speech and language tasks. These behavioral improvements were accompanied by functional MRI changes in the right frontal lobe as well as by an increased volume of white matter pathways in the right hemisphere. No increase in white matter volume was seen in her healthy twin sister, who was scanned twice over the same time period. This case study not only provides further evidence for MIT's effectiveness, but also indicates that intensive treatment can induce functional and structural changes in a right-hemisphere fronto-temporal network.

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