The brain is the most intricate human organ. After studying it for millennia, we are yet to find many answers. Thankfully, we now have a somewhat complete, useful index of neuropathy. We can classify and easily diagnose brain disorders.
Language is essentially what makes us human. Without language, we struggle. Only the left brain hemisphere affects language. But this differs from person to person. Diseases that take away our communication are grave; and they make us feel stranded. Though at the misfortune of many, now, we at least have a logical idea of what is going on. So, here are 3 diseases in neuropathy that hinder normal communication.
Aphasia is a fascinating impairment of speech or writing caused by a lesion in the brain. Aphasia stalls or hinders the proper expression of language. In fact, there are three dominant types of aphasia, which have many subcategories. These are Broca’s aphasia, Wernicke’s aphasia, and conduction aphasia. Lesion of the respective brain centers or their connecting fibers causes these. However, aphasia does not affect intelligence.
Broca’s area in the inferior frontal gyrus and Wernicke’s area in the posterior superior temporal gyrus influence aphasia. These centers coordinate language expression and comprehension, respectively.
Broca’s aphasia or non-fluent aphasia
The lesion in Broca’s area of the inferior frontal gyrus causes Broca’s aphasia. Broca’s area deals with speech and writing. Language expression occurs from here. So a lesion of neurons in Broca’s area degenerates language expression. Thus, there is difficulty in speaking or in writing. The patients of Broca’s aphasia struggle to express themselves through words. In particular, they stagger while speaking or writing; and they respond slowly. So, we also call this non-fluent aphasia.
During an interview, a Broca’s aphasia patient registers questions perfectly. He or she comprehends the question perfectly. For this reason, we can determine that Wernicke’s area is intact. Wernicke’s is an integral part of Wernicke’s aphasia. Contrary to comprehension, the patient cannot easily find the right words to say. He or she stumbles to string together relevant words. So, he or she is slow. Suppose you ask a non-fluent aphasia patient, “Where do you live?” You may hear something like this: “I… house… near…”; and then the patient gives up.
• Lesion of the language expression center invokes non-fluent or Broca’s aphasia.
• Broca’s aphasia degenerates speech but not comprehension.
• Wernicke’s area remains intact in Broca’s aphasia.
Wernicke’s aphasia or fluent aphasia
What happens when Wernicke’s area undergoes a tear or lesion? We call it Wernicke’s aphasia. Broca’s aphasia affects the output. In contrast, Wernicke’s aphasia halts or delays comprehension or input processing.
Wernicke’s area of the brain controls language comprehension. So, things like reading and speech get processed here. What might happen for a tear in Wernicke’s area? Yes, the comprehensive ability will reduce. Yet, as Broca’s area remains intact, no speech disorders will arise. This invites an interesting condition.
A patient of Wernicke’s aphasia has trouble understanding the interviewer’s question, but he or she doesn’t know it. He responds confidently. But what he says makes little sense. In addition, in severe cases, the patient isn’t aware of this. If you ask him or her, “Do you have a pet?” he or she might answer like this: “Lovely weather, isn’t it? People are walking, and eating, and playing.” Notice how the answer is fluent but doesn’t match the question? Exactly, this is fluent aphasia.
• Damage of neurons in Wernicke’s area causes fluent or Wernicke’s aphasia.
• This disease spares Broca’s area of the brain.
• Wernicke’s aphasia or fluent aphasia patients have intact Broca’s areas; they cannot comprehend, but they can speak or write fluently. However, their words make little sense.
• Intelligence is secure.
Conduction aphasia is the odd one out. It is more of a coordination problem between your Broca’s area and your Wernicke’s area. There is a nerve band that connects these two areas. We named it the arcuate fasciculus. A tear in this nerve causes problems with memory and repetition.
For instance, a patient asked to count to 10 faces difficulties. He or she stops midway. Then, he or she cannot pick up at the same place. This is for memory problems. In fact, the lesion of the arcuate fasciculus affects the conduction between Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas. That is why we call this disease “conduction aphasia”.
• Patient has no problem understanding or speaking in conduction aphasia.
• It leads to short-term memory and continuity problems. The patient cannot repeat what he or she has heard and understood. He or she cannot resume from the middle of a sentence or sequence.
Which is more deadly: losing your speech or messing up tying your shoelaces? The answer will shock you.
Apraxia is like aphasia, but it’s important to distinguish between these. Aphasia causes impairment of language. This includes comprehension or writing or speaking. So, the motor function had nothing to do with aphasia. Apraxia is all about motor function.
Apraxia is a neurological disorder. We define it as an inability to perform known functions on demand. For example, a patient might not cough, wink, or copy a simple drawing when asked. Interestingly, these are all familiar actions; yet, he or she just cannot produce the actions when asked to do so. Else, it will be very shaky.
The simple answer is this: Apraxia is far more crippling than aphasia. Speaking might seem inevitable in communication. As described, aphasia patients could still communicate to a good extent. But the inability to perform simple actions perfectly is deadlier than it seems. Superficially, it seems bearable. Yet the inability to do certain small actions disallows a normal life. Patients with apraxia often require a caretaker.
• Apraxia and aphasia are different.
• An apraxia patient cannot perform known motor tasks on demand, though willing.
• Apraxia obstructs a normal life.
Dyslexia or Alexia
Dyslexia is a reading problem. It arises from trouble matching symbols to sounds. In addition, it encompasses writing and spelling difficulties. A person with dyslexia needs minor help but can succeed. Apart from this, he or she has normal intelligence.
• Dyslexia diminishes reading ability; but, it doesn’t take it away.
• The patient requires minor help.
If “alexia” sounds like a smart home AI, you’re not alone. But this alexia is far more dangerous. It is a condition of not being able to read. In fact, this is because of decreased comprehension. Alexia often collaborates with agraphia, aphasia, and others; thus, its effect compounds.
• “A” is for “no” and the rest is for “reading”. Alexia mainly inhibits reading ability.
• Alexia is more serious than dyslexia; and it may reduce academic performance.
Do these disorders make you feel lucky? They should. Always know that people having them have it harder than you. I don’t know about you, but it inspires me to be grateful. Your brain is the most sensitive organ. The whole point of this article is to encourage gratefulness; besides, we should all attempt to elevate those with a brain disease.