Cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation of the right Wernicke’s area improves comprehension in subacute stroke patients
Previous studies have shown the appearance of right-sided language-related brain activity in right-handed patients after a stroke. Non-invasive brain stimulation such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) have been shown to modulate excitability in the brain. Moreover, rTMS and tDCS have been found to improve naming in non-fluent post-stroke aphasic patients. Here, we investigated the effect of tDCS on the comprehension of aphasic patients with subacute stroke. We hypothesized that tDCS applied to the left superior temporal gyrus (Wernicke’s area) or the right Wernicke’s area might be associated with recovery of comprehension ability in aphasic patients with subacute stroke. Participants included right-handed subacute stroke patients with global aphasia due to ischemic infarct of the left M1 or M2 middle cerebral artery. Patients were randomly divided into three groups: patients who received anodal tDCS applied to the left superior temporal gyrus, patients who received cathodal tDCS applied to the right superior temporal gyrus, and patients who received sham tDCS. All patients received conventional speech and language therapy during each period of tDCS application. The Korean-Western Aphasia Battery (K-WAB) was used to assess all patients before and after tDCS sessions. After intervention, all patients had significant improvements in aphasia quotients, spontaneous speech, and auditory verbal comprehension. However, auditory verbal comprehension improved significantly more in patients treated with a cathode, as compared to patients in the other groups. These results are consistent with the role of Wernicke’s area in language comprehension and the therapeutic effect that cathodal tDCS has on aphasia patients with subacute stroke, suggesting that tDCS may be an adjuvant treatment approach for aphasia rehabilitation therapy in patients in an early stage of stroke.
from Brain and Language