Saturday, June 28, 2008

National Aphasia Association

NEW YORK, June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recognition of the urgent
need for more public awareness about aphasia Senate Resolution 566 (sponsored
by Senator Tim Johnson, D-SD) and House Resolution 1188 (sponsored by
Representative Edward Markey, D-Mass), declare June as National Aphasia
Awareness Month. Aphasia is the sudden inability to communicate, speak, read,
write or understand language, usually as a result of stroke or traumatic brain
injury. It is estimated that over 1 million Americans have aphasia, and the
number of new aphasia cases is estimated to be as high as over 200,000 per

"I was proud to introduce a resolution recognizing National Aphasia
Awareness Month, which passed the Senate unanimously. During my recovery, I
was blessed to work with professional and talented speech-language
pathologists whose confidence was infectious and who motivated me to work
harder than I thought possible," said Sen. Johnson, who suffered the effects
of an arterio-venous malformation (AVM) in December 2006 and also credits the
love and support of his wife, family and friends for making an important
difference in his recovery.

According to National Aphasia Association Executive Director Ellayne
Ganzfried, "there is no cure for aphasia, but speech-language therapy and
constant social interaction is essential for recovery and maintaining a
meaningful life. Because of their difficulty in communicating, over 70% of
people with aphasia report that people avoided contact with them and 90
percent felt isolated, left out, ignored and lonely. This isolation, coupled
with the fact that intellect remains intact, makes depression another serious
result of aphasia."

Representative Edward Markey, whose resolution is expected to get
unanimous support, says, "Aphasia is a 'silent' disability because it quiets
people and causes them to withdraw from life. My hope is that National Aphasia
Awareness Month will help give a voice to people with aphasia so that their
needs and concerns can be heard. Aphasia is a condition that has affected a
number of my friends and colleagues, so I know from personal experience it is
an issue that deserves a lot of acknowledgement and attention."

"Aphasia is more common than cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal
cord injuries, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease, yet it is relatively
unknown by the general public," says Ganzfried, who is grateful to Sen.
Johnson, Rep. Markey and other legislators for helping to raise awareness for

"Among those who have heard of aphasia, there are serious misconceptions
about the mental condition of people with aphasia. We are trying to make it
absolutely clear that aphasia does not affect a person's intellect. Aphasia
does not make someone mentally ill. It only challenges their ability to
communicate," explains Ganzfried. To further help raise awareness, the Sixth
National NAA Conference -- Speaking Out! 2008 -- will be held June 19-21, 2008
at NYU's Kimmel Center. The conference brings together medical/rehabilitation
professionals, people with aphasia, family members, caregivers and the general

Aphasia can occur in people of all ages, nationalities, socio-economic
backgrounds and equally among men and women. Understanding, patience and a few
commonsense strategies will help family, friends, caregivers and the public
communicate with people with aphasia:

1) Have the person's attention before you speak.
2) Minimize or eliminate background noise (TV, radio, other people).
3) Keep your own voice at a normal level.
4) Keep communication simple, but adult.
5) Give them time to speak, resist the urge to finish sentences or offer
6) Communicate with drawings, gestures, writing and facial expressions.
7) Confirm that you are communicating successfully with "yes" and "no"
8) Praise all attempts to speak and downplay any errors.
9) Engage in normal activities whenever possible.
10) Encourage independence, avoid being overprotective.

National Aphasia Association

NAA is a consumer-focused, not-for-profit organization that was founded in
1987 as the first national organization dedicated to advocating for persons
with aphasia and their families. Resources include:

The Aphasia Quiz on

NAA Hotline (800-922-4622) helps over 4,000 families a year.

NAA National Registry links to over 440 aphasia US support groups and 210
state representatives. receives over 9,000 hits per month, helping an estimated
100,000 families a year.

The Aphasia Handbook: A Guide for Stroke and Brain Injury Survivors and
Their Families -- with its simple, illustrated design and practical,
non-technical content -- this award-winning, internationally acclaimed book is
a user-friendly, easy-to-understand resource.

Speaking in Gibberish and Writing Constantly

10 June 2008

This article in Scientic American hints at some potential health-related impacts of blogging (all positive by the way). According to the article:

expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery.

Now, I’m not certain how “expressive” an article about VBA and VSTO can be… so it may not be helping me much at all, but it may help YOU to sleep.

Of course it may be possible to take a contrary view and suggest that people actually blog because they are ill. The article in describing the physiology of the brain related to writing suggest that the temporal lobes (which govern speech) may be involved as well. Then as proof cites Wernicke’s aphasia which appears to be rooted in the temporal lobes:

People with Wernicke’s aphasia speak in gibberish and often write constantly. In light of these traits, Flaherty speculates that some activity in this area could foster the urge to blog.

Uh huh, gibberish, constant writing, bloggers… all cut from the same cloth.

Relationships between behavior, brainstem and cortical encoding of seen and heard speech in musicians and non-musicians

from Hearing Research

Musicians have a variety of perceptual and cortical specializations compared to non-musicians. Recent studies have shown that potentials evoked from primarily brainstem structures are enhanced in musicians, compared to non-musicians. Specifically, musicians have more robust representations of pitch periodicity and faster neural timing to sound onset when listening to sounds or both listening to and viewing a speaker. However, it is not known whether musician-related enhancements at the subcortical level are correlated with specializations in the cortex. Does musical training shape the auditory system in a coordinated manner or in disparate ways at cortical and subcortical levels? To answer this question, we recorded simultaneous brainstem and cortical evoked responses in musician and non-musician subjects. Brainstem response periodicity was related to early cortical response timing across all subjects, and this relationship was stronger in musicians. Peaks of the brainstem response evoked by sound onset and timbre cues were also related to cortical timing. Neurophysiological measures at both levels correlated with musical skill scores across all subjects. In addition, brainstem and cortical measures correlated with the age musicians began their training and the years of musical practice. Taken together, these data imply that neural representations of pitch, timing and timbre cues and cortical response timing are shaped in a coordinated manner, and indicate corticofugal modulation of subcortical afferent circuitry.