In terms of language, the left part of the brain is in control of language. Alzheimer’s is one of the diseases where language is disrupted in people who have the chronic condition. This language impairment starts in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. This paper will describe the brain parts that are involved in processing language and how Alzheimer’s affects the brain and language and how language problems get progressively worse with the disease .
In a normal brain, there are several parts that are connected to language. These include Broca’s area and Wernicke’s areas inside the left perisylvian cortex. Broca’s area is a component of the frontal lobe that is responsible for producing speech, while the Wernicke’s area is a part of the cerebral cortex that centers on written and spoken language. The visual cortex is the element of the cerebral cortex that handles the processing of visual information. The auditory cortex in the cerebral cortex is in charge of auditory information that is concerned with language, in terms of being able to hear language .

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In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, people show many expressive and receptive deficits. In the result of standardized testing, they found that people with early Alzheimer’s had premature loss of naming objects and people, as well as comprehending things. However, patients could articulate words sufficiently and use proper syntax well. Problems in verbal fluency were also cited in these initial stages of the disease .

Functional imaging studies also showed some interesting correlations between decreased neural metabolism and impaired language and semantic memory performance. In one study, in an event-related word repetition paradigm study, individuals who did not suffer from Alzheimer’s showed some responsiveness in left hemisphere areas with new words, as compared to earlier words. On the contrary, in patients with Alzheimer’s this response in the left medial temporal lobe was not demonstrated. Other brain issues were also shown in Alzheimer’s patients. This included reduced word repetition issues in the widespread left cortex and isolated language areas. Some other research has pointed to an association between cortical hypometabolism and poor performance. Both the left temporoparietal and left prefrontal cortex seemed to be negatively affected .

As patients get deeper into Alzheimer’s, language dysfunction becomes increasingly hierarchical. As the disease gets worse, there are more widespread language problems, due to a highly damaged semantic storage system and injury to other cortical processes involved in language. Interestingly, there appears to be some evidence that a main language deficit slowly builds up in patients with Alzheimer’s. Semantic issues in patients have been assessed by neuropsychology and neuroimaging tests a few years before Alzheimer’s is diagnosed and starts to create severe problems .

As you can see, language involves many areas of the brain, such as the visual and auditory cortex, Broca’s area, Wernicke’s area, and the perisylvian cortex. While these areas work well and function normally in patients who do not have Alzheimer’s, these brain areas are compromised in the different stages of Alzheimer’s. Early stages of Alzheimer’s show problems in naming things and comprehension of language. Later stages of the disease include damaged semantic storage systems and more problems with language as whole. Hopefully, with more research, people with Alzheimer’s can be helped and their symptoms decreased.

  • Verma, M., & Howard, R. (2012). Semantic memory and language dysfunction in early Alzheimer’s disease: a review . International Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry, 1209-1217.