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 ... Article
Article  |   June 01, 2011
Treating Attention To Improve Auditory Comprehension Deficits Associated With Aphasia
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Nancy Helm-Estabrooks
    Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC
    University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Nancy Helm-Estabrooks, ScD, CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS is the Brewer Smith Distinguished Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences at Western Carolina University. She also holds the position of adjunct research professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her scholarly work focuses on aphasia and cognitive-communicative disorders. She has published more than 90 peer-reviewed papers and authored/co-authored 7 books, 21 chapters, and 6 standardized tests. Dr. Helm-Estabrooks is an ASHA Fellow and a recipient of both the ASHA Honors and ANCDS Honors.
    Nancy Helm-Estabrooks, ScD, CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS is the Brewer Smith Distinguished Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences at Western Carolina University. She also holds the position of adjunct research professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her scholarly work focuses on aphasia and cognitive-communicative disorders. She has published more than 90 peer-reviewed papers and authored/co-authored 7 books, 21 chapters, and 6 standardized tests. Dr. Helm-Estabrooks is an ASHA Fellow and a recipient of both the ASHA Honors and ANCDS Honors.×
Article Information
Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Aphasia / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Articles
Article   |   June 01, 2011
Treating Attention To Improve Auditory Comprehension Deficits Associated With Aphasia
SIG 2 Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, June 2011, Vol. 21, 64-71. doi:10.1044/nnsld21.2.64
SIG 2 Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, June 2011, Vol. 21, 64-71. doi:10.1044/nnsld21.2.64

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.

Acknowledgment
The author thanks Ellen McCrakcen, MS, CCC-SLP who made very helpful editorial suggestions for this paper
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