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This content is taken from the University of Groningen & University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)'s online course, Language Testing During Awake Brain Surgery. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds You just saw a clip of a patient. And what you probably noticed is that you couldn’t understand what he was trying to convey. It’s the patient with Wernicke’s aphasia we met earlier. If we now look at his spontaneous speech a bit more closely, it seems that he uses fluent American English, with no impairment on the sound level, and no major grammatical mistakes. However, he is actually avoiding complex linguistic features, such as verbs in the past tense or subclauses that would make processing of sentences more difficult. He can somehow avoid these impairments, though, so it’s hard for us to tell what exactly he struggles with in language production. What are you doing today?

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds We stayed with the water over here at the moment and talk with the people for them over there. They’re diving for them at the moment, but they’ll save in the moment here water very soon for him, with luck, for him. Now, imagine a patient with a tumour whose language disorders are even less obvious than in the patient you just saw, or imagine the intraoperative situation, where direct current stimulation may disturb language, but only at a complex level that doesn’t result in an obvious error. In all those cases, minor symptoms of language impairments might go unnoticed.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 seconds Therefore, we need very sensitive, linguistically sophisticated, patient tailored tests that can aim at language aspects that we consider to be important, and that reveal impairments that might go unnoticed if we only look at spontaneous speech. With specific tests, we can carefully test whether areas of the cortex are important for processing and producing grammatical speech.

Why spontaneous speech analysis is not enough

After discussing this issue among yourself, Prof. Roelien Bastiaanse will give her explanation to the question why analyzing spontaneous speech to evaluate the language skills of a patient is not sufficient.

The patient shown in the video was taken from youtube. You can find the full video in the links below the step.

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Language Testing During Awake Brain Surgery

University of Groningen

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