Before you bid good bye to 2015, we thought you might want to check if you haven’t missed some of the best stories written this year about aphasia, speech, language and related brain function. Below is our selection of the top 10 stories of the year.

1. What a speech disorder reveals about brain function. [Curious Stardust, a Kavli blog]

“I don’t understand. Why can’t they talk?” – Cognitive scientist Seana Coulson answers questions asked by students during her aphasia guest-lectures at UC San Diego.

2. The family that couldn’t say hippopotamus. [Nautilus]

A story about a family with a peculiar genetic disorder that makes their speech come out garbled. Studying this family have shed some light on what genes are involved in speech.

3. Textbooks got it wrong: How your brain understands words. [Futurity]

A study on patients with Primary Progressive Aphasia alters a long-standing theory on how the brain processes comprehension.

4. Righting a wrong? Right side of brain can compensate for post-stroke loss of speech. [ScienceDaily]

After a debate that has lasted more than 130 years, researchers have found that loss of speech from a stroke in the left hemisphere of the brain can be recovered on the back, right side of the brain. This contradicts recent notions that the right hemisphere interferes with recovery.

5. Music can heal the brain. [Scientific American MIND]

An 11 year old gets a stroke that results in Aphasia, which leaves her with garbled speech. Except when she sings. An overview of new therapies that use rhythm, beat and melody to help patients recover language, hearing, motion and emotion.

Check out also this, and this story on music and stroke.

6. Language acquisition: from sounds to the meaning. [ScienceDaily]

How do infants know that when their mothers say ‘cup’ while holding a cup they refer to the object in their hand? In other words – how do we relate sound to meaning when learning a language?

7. What happens when you can’t talk to yourself. [Nautilus]

A story about a woman who suffered a massive stroke, and not only lost her ability to communicate in all six languages she spoked fluently before, but also lost her ability to have an inner monologue.

See also: In the brain, silent reading is the same as talking to yourself. [Discover Magazine]

8. How funny is this word? The ‘snunkoople’ effect. [Science Daily]

How a study of Aphasia led to insights on why some words make us laugh, even when we don’t know what they mean.

9. Can iPad therapy mend speech after stroke? [Futurity]

In-person therapy for Aphasia recovery is often not enough and sometimes is limited by cost and availability. Can therapy done via iPad supplement in-person therapy and offer further improvement? This study measures the progress Aphasia patients made using iPad therapy compared to those who didn’t.

10. Brains iconic seat of speech goes silent when we actually talk. [Berkeley News]

Many stroke patients who have damaged an area in the brain called Broca’s area located in the front left part of the brain lose much of their ability to speak. But what does this area really do in speech and language?

More highlights from 2015

We would also like to share a couple of stories about celebrated writer, neurologist, NAA board member, and great friend and supporter of persons with Aphasia, Oliver Sacks, who died in August, 2015 after a battle with cancer.

My own life. [by Oliver Sacks, The New York Times]

Oliver Sacks reflects on life and making the most out of the short time that remains ahead after learning that he has terminal cancer.

Why Oliver Sacks always goes too far. [The Atlantic]

Michael Roth, the president of Wesleyan University, writes about Oliver Sacks and his last memoir On The Move, which Roth calls “a celebration of the fullness of human experience”.

We hope you enjoyed reading our selections from 2015! Stay tuned for more aphasia news and stories in 2016! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter by clicking on the icons below.


Happy New Year 2016! Let it be full of health, laughter and good luck!