Integrity of the hippocampus and surrounding white matter is correlated with language training success in aphasia

Marcus Meinzer*, Siawoosh Mohammadi, Harald Kugel, Hagen Schiffbauer, Agnes Flöel, Johannes Albers, Kira Kramer, Ricarda Menke, Annette Baumgärtner, Stefan Knecht, Caterina Breitenstein, Michael Deppe

*Corresponding author for this work
80 Citations (Scopus)


Aphasia after middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke shows highly variable degrees of recovery. One possible explanation may be offered by the variability of the occlusion location. Branches from the proximal portion of the MCA often supply the mesial temporal lobe including parts of the hippocampus, a structure known to be involved in language learning. Therefore, we assessed whether language recovery in chronic aphasia is dependent on the proximity of the MCA infarct and correlated with the integrity of the hippocampus and its surrounding white matter. Language reacquisition capability was determined after 2. weeks of intensive language therapy and 8. months after treatment in ten chronic aphasia patients. Proximity of MCA occlusion relative to the internal carotid artery was determined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) based on the most proximal anatomical region infarcted. Structural damage to the hippocampus was assessed by MRI-based volumetry, regional microstructural integrity of hippocampus adjacent white matter by fractional anisotropy. Language learning success for trained materials was correlated with the proximity of MCA occlusion, microstructural integrity of the left hippocampus and its surrounding white matter, but not with lesion size, overall microstructural brain integrity and a control region outside of the MCA territory. No correlations were found for untrained language materials, underlining the specificity of our results for training-induced recovery. Our results suggest that intensive language therapy success in chronic aphasia after MCA stroke is critically dependent on damage to the hippocampus and its surrounding structures.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)283-290
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 10.2010

Research Areas and Centers

  • Health Sciences

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 206-07 Clinical Neurology Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology
  • 206-08 Cognitive and Systemic Human Neuroscience
  • 206-05 Experimental Models for Investigating Diseases of the Nervous System

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