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Types of Aphasia

There are different types of aphasia.  Each type can cause impairment that varies from mild to severe.

Anomic Aphasia

Anomic aphasia is the least severe form. With it, you are often unable to supply the correct words for the things you want to talk about — objects, people, places, or events. With anomic aphasia, you will usually understand speech well and be able to read adequately, but your writing ability may be poor.

Broca’s Aphasia

Broca’s aphasia is also referred to as nonfluent or expressive aphasia. With it, you may comprehend speech and know what you want to say, but are not able to find the words you need to form a complete sentence. Expressing language in the form of speech and writing will, in most cases, be severely reduced, and you may be limited to short statements, with words like “is” or “the” left out. Accessing vocabulary is restricted and forming sounds is extremely challenging – usually resulting in poor speech quality. Writing in general is difficult; and when you say something aloud, it often does not resemble a sentence.

Mixed Nonfluent Aphasia

Mixed nonfluent aphasia resembles a severe form of Broca’s aphasia because the person’s speech is sparse, laborious, and awkward. However, unlike Broca’s aphasia, a person with mixed non-fluent aphasia may have a very limited understanding of speech and not be able to read or write beyond an elementary level.

Wernicke’s Aphasia

With Wernicke’s aphasia, also referred to as fluent or receptive aphasia, you may have serious comprehension difficulties and be unable to grasp the meaning of spoken words. Yet you may be able to produce fluent, connected speech. What you say, however, is in most cases a series of meaningless words that sound like sentences, but don’t make sense, and you may not even realize that your speech is incorrect. Reading and writing are often severely impaired as well.

Broca’s and Wernicke’s Aphasia

Broca's and Wernicke's Aphasia

Broca’s area:

  • Located on the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere
  • Damage to it typically results in Broca’s, or nonfluent, aphasia
  • Word-finding difficulty; diminished vocabulary; impoverished grammar; and 
slow, error-prone, effortful speech production 

Wernicke’s area:

  • Located on the temporal lobe of the left hemisphere toward the rear
  • Damage typically results in Wernicke’s, or fluent, aphasia
  • Lack of self-monitoring; fluent production of speechlike phrases normal in length and intonational contour, but otherwise comprising an uninterpretable mix of random words plus freely invented nonwords.

Image courtesy of National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Global Aphasia

Global aphasia is the most severe form and usually occurs immediately after a stroke – where you have experienced extensive damage to the brain’s language areas. A person with global aphasia loses almost all language function and has great difficulty understanding as well as forming words and sentences. Most likely, you will only be able to produce a few recognizable words, understand little or no spoken speech, and be unable to read or write.

Primary Progressive Aphasia

Primary progressive aphasia is a rare degenerative brain and nervous system disorder that causes your speaking and language skills to decline over time. If you have primary progressive aphasia, you may have trouble naming objects or may misuse word endings, verb tenses, conjunctions, and pronouns. Unlike actual aphasia, which is the result of brain damage, primary progressive aphasia is a progressive type of dementia in which the frontal and temporal lobes of your brain shrink.