What is Transcortical Aphasia?

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  • Written By: Amanda Dean
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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Transcortical aphasia describes a family of language disorders produced by brain damage. This family of disorders is divided into transcortical motor aphasia, mixed transcortical aphasia and transcortical sensory aphasia. This disorder is an expressive aphasia, as it affects an ability to speak spontaneously, though the individual can understand incoming written or verbal messages. The severity and duration of the condition vary among patients.

This disorder is caused by damage to the left hemisphere of the temporal lobe. Pathways between auditory channels and areas of the brain that process language are undamaged in patients with this disorder. The damage that causes transcortical aphasia occurs in various parts of the subcortex.

The primary characteristic that sets transcortical aphasia apart from other forms of aphasia is the ability to fluently repeat words and phrases. Transcortial motor aphasia and mixed transcortical aphasia are considered to be non-fluent aphasias since reception is intact, but speech is impaired. The patient has difficulty finding the right words to say even when he knows what he wants to express. Patients with transcortical sensory aphasia often insert incorrect words during fluent dialog and have more difficulty than other transcortical aphasia patients with word recognition.


Aphasia patients often become frustrated with their inability to communicate. This may lead to anxiety or depression, so patients should be psychologically and emotionally supported. Some researchers have experimented with antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs used in Alzheimer's disease patients to treat transcortical aphasia. These drugs do little to help the language deficiencies, but help with behavioral and emotional problems associated with the disorder.

Treatment for transcoritical aphasia varies based on the cause of the brain injury and how severe the aphasia is. In some cases, the condition may disappear as the brain recovers or the patient relearns expression, but the disorder is often pervasive. If the aphasia is caused by a tumor or lesion, surgical removal may erase symptoms of the disorder.

Speech pathologists work with aphasia patients to help them regain their language facilities. Some exercises can help to recover language losses, such as computer program activities and repetition exercises that strengthen spontaneous speech. Additionally, transcortical aphasia patients might be encouraged to work through word games and crossword puzzles.

Aphasia is a rare condition. It is usually the result of tumors, stroke, or traumatic injury. Aphasia is differentiated from other language impairments caused by motor failures, developmental deficiencies, or other mental disorders. To diagnose transcortical aphasia, physicians conduct simple bedside tests in the wake of a traumatic brain event. Difficulty in spontaneous speech or naming simple objects indicates that the patient may have this condition. A patient that shows signs of aphasia would be given a battery of assessment tests to determine the type and severity of the loss.


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