Enhancing Neural Plasticity for Recovery from Aphasia

Investigating the effects of promising aphasia interventions on brain function to inform therapies for stroke survivors

Full Project Name:Enhancing Neural Plasticity for Recovery from AphasiaPrincipal Investigator:Jeffrey R. Binder, MD, NeurologyCo-Investigator:Sara B. Pillay, PhD, Neurology; Priyanka Shah-Basak, PhD, NeurologyAward Amount:$283,737
Award Date
July2021
Project Duration:36 months

Project Description Narrative:


Strokes are the most common cause of death and disability among neurological and psychiatric disorders, both nationally and in Wisconsin. Aphasia, or the inability to communicate, is a specific and devastating outcome of strokes that affects approximately 30% of people with stroke, making it one of the most prevalent causes of serious long-term disability. Current therapies for aphasia provide only modest benefits, and there is a great need to develop more effective methods to help people with this condition recover their language.

Through this award, researchers will conduct the first detailed, large-scale assessment of three promising interventions and their effects on brain function to inform approaches to aphasia therapy and focus future research in this area.

Project Updates:


  • Launched the Intensive Program for Aphasia Therapy (IPAT) service as the only program of its kind in Wisconsin, offering cutting-edge, evidence-based intensive therapy for aphasia
  • Engaged five participants in the research study to date, yielding an incredibly rich database of behavioral and imaging data and showing documented objective improvements on a range of language skills as well as on patient communication confidence measures and family ratings of functional communication abilities
  • Demonstrated complex changes in brain connectivity that accompany language-based noninvasive electrical stimulation of the brain (tDCS) have persisted for at least two months after therapy, which is a novel observation
  • Developed a community group for people with aphasia and their caregivers allowing members to socialize and learn in a supportive setting led by a speech pathologist and neuropsychologist and expanding access to supportive, ongoing community connection for patients and families that often feel very disconnected and isolated as a result of aphasia

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