Treating Attention To Improve Auditory Comprehension Deficits Associated With Aphasia
Auditory comprehension is rarely unaffected by aphasia, although the extent of these deficits ranges greatly. Regardless of the severity of the deficit, however, problems understanding spoken language have a notable impact on individuals’ lives. Speech-language pathologists, therefore, are obligated to employ effective approaches to remediating these problems. This paper addresses ways to treat auditory comprehension starting with a careful examination that identifies preserved and disturbed areas of function and that leads clinicians to think about underlying mechanisms that might be responsible for success and failures. Several lines of evidence support the idea that attentional problems may account for at least some of what appear to be problems with comprehension of spoken language in people with aphasia (PWA). Despite the growing body of evidence that a strong relationship exists between attention and auditory comprehension performance, the prevailing approach to treating auditory comprehension deficits continues to be the linguistic stimulation approach. This paper, therefore, reviews linguistic approaches to remediating auditory comprehension before discussing studies of attention training as a “cognitive” approach to improving these skills. Also discussed is the compelling evidence that the overall cognitive status of PWA significantly influences their response to any form of aphasia treatment.