Anomia is a neurological deficit characterized by the inability to remember the names of people or things; essentially, people cannot remember nouns. Often people are unable to recognize these names when they are presented, depending on the nature of their anomia. This neurological issue is often caused by brain trauma such as that incurred during a stroke or traumatic brain injury, and people can recover from it, depending on the nature of the damage to the brain.
This is part of a larger group of neurological issues referred to under the umbrella term “aphasia.” Aphasia represents a problem with speech and language processing, caused by problems in the areas of the brain which process language. People with aphasias can experience intense frustration, because they are used to being able to communicate with words, and they find themselves unable to do so.
In the case of anomia, people know what something is, but they do not know what it is called. Presented with a knife, for example, the patient could say “that is for cutting,” and could demonstrate potential uses of the knife, but the patient would be unable to come up with the word “knife.” People with anomia can sometimes recall the name if prompted, or recognize it when they hear it, while in other cases, they cannot.
Color anomia is a unique form of anomia in which someone can distinguish between colors, but cannot name them. In averbia, another form, people cannot recall verbs. Also known as nominal aphasia, anomia is characterized by the use of circumlocutions which are used to describe something; the patient describes an object by function or appearance, for example, but cannot call it by name.
In some cases, people naturally recover from anomia. In other instances, it may be necessary to attend speech therapy sessions to relearn words. Remapping of brain patterns will occur during these sessions, allowing the patient to learn and retain new words.
When working with someone who has anomia, patience is required. It is important to remember that while it can be frustrating to listen to someone try and describe something instead of just naming it, for the patient, it is extraordinarily irritating to not just be able to call things by name. The patient knows full well what objects are and how they are used, and understands the connections between objects. Staying patient and providing assistance when asked for it it an important part of supporting someone who is recovering from an insult to the brain.