In clinical neuropsychology and cognitive neuropsychology, receptive aphasia, also known as Wernicke’s aphasia, fluent aphasia, or sensory aphasia, is a type of aphasia traditionally associated with neurological damage to Wernicke’s area in the brain, (Brodmann area 22, in the posterior part of the superior temporal gyrus of the dominant hemisphere). However, the key deficits of receptive aphasia do not come from damage to Wernicke's area; instead most of the core difficulties are proposed to come from damage to the medial temporal lobe and underlying white matter. Damage in this area not only destroys local language regions but also cuts off most of the occipital, temporal, and parietal regions from the core language region.
People with receptive aphasia can speak with normal grammar, syntax, rate, intonation and stress, but their language content is incorrect. They may use the wrong words, insert nonexistent words into speech, or string normal words together randomly. They retain the ability to sing or to recite something memorized. This aphasia was first described by Carl Wernicke and its understanding substantially advanced by Norman Geschwind.
Receptive aphasia is not to be confused with Wernicke’s encephalopathy or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
When we want to speak, we formulate what we are going to say in Wernicke’s area which then transmits our plan of speech to Broca’s area where the plan of speech is carried out. Wernicke’s Area is located posterior to the lateral sulcus, typically in the left hemisphere, between the visual, auditory, and somesthetic areas of the cerebral cortex. A person with this aphasia speaks normally, but uses random or invented words, leaves out key words, substitutes words or verb tenses, pronouns or prepositions, and their sentences don’t make sense. They can also have a tendency to talk excessively. A person with this aphasia cannot understand the spoken words of others or read written words. Speech is preserved, but language content is incorrect. Substitutions of one word for another (paraphasias, e.g. “telephone” for “television”) are common. Comprehension and repetition are poor.
Patients who recover from Wernicke’s aphasia report that, while aphasic, they found the speech of others to be unintelligible and, despite being cognizant of the fact that they were speaking, they could neither stop themselves nor understand their own words.
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