Assessing and mapping language, attention and executive multidimensional deficits in stroke aphasia.

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Schumacher, Rahel 
Halai, Ajay D 
Lambon Ralph, Matthew A 

There is growing awareness that aphasia following a stroke can include deficits in other cognitive functions and that these are predictive of certain aspects of language function, recovery and rehabilitation. However, data on attentional and executive (dys)functions in individuals with stroke aphasia are still scarce and the relationship to underlying lesions is rarely explored. Accordingly in this investigation, an extensive selection of standardized non-verbal neuropsychological tests was administered to 38 individuals with chronic post-stroke aphasia, in addition to detailed language testing and MRI. To establish the core components underlying the variable patients' performance, behavioural data were explored with rotated principal component analyses, first separately for the non-verbal and language tests, then in a combined analysis including all tests. Three orthogonal components for the non-verbal tests were extracted, which were interpreted as shift-update, inhibit-generate and speed. Three components were also extracted for the language tests, representing phonology, semantics and speech quanta. Individual continuous scores on each component were then included in a voxel-based correlational methodology analysis, yielding significant clusters for all components. The shift-update component was associated with a posterior left temporo-occipital and bilateral medial parietal cluster, the inhibit-generate component was mainly associated with left frontal and bilateral medial frontal regions, and the speed component with several small right-sided fronto-parieto-occipital clusters. Two complementary multivariate brain-behaviour mapping methods were also used, which showed converging results. Together the results suggest that a range of brain regions are involved in attention and executive functioning, and that these non-language domains play a role in the abilities of patients with chronic aphasia. In conclusion, our findings confirm and extend our understanding of the multidimensionality of stroke aphasia, emphasize the importance of assessing non-verbal cognition in this patient group and provide directions for future research and clinical practice. We also briefly compare and discuss univariate and multivariate methods for brain-behaviour mapping.

aphasia, attention, executive functions, principal components, univariate and multivariate brain-behaviour mapping, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Aphasia, Attention, Brain, Brain Mapping, Cognition, Comprehension, Executive Function, Female, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Language, Language Tests, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests, Principal Component Analysis, Semantics, Speech, Stroke
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Oxford University Press (OUP)
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Medical Research Council (MR/R023883/1)
European Research Council (670428)