Broca’s aphasia causes difficulty with spontaneous, fluent speech. People with this condition typically leave out linking words in sentences, such as “and,” “on,” or “but.” They may also speak in short sentences with a reduced vocabulary.

The condition gets its name from the French physician Pierre Paul Broca, who first recognized it in 1861. Researchers believe Broca’s aphasia happens because of dysfunction of the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex.

The most common cause of Broca’s aphasia is a stroke. It can also occur due to traumatic brain injuries, brain infections, or tumors.

Doctors tailor treatment to the individual. However, it usually involves speech and language therapy.

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Aphasia is a condition that causes difficulty using words and symbols. This could include written or spoken words, depending on the type of aphasia.

Broca’s aphasia is a subtype that causes difficulty with fluent, spontaneous speech. It causes a person to talk in short or fragmented sentences.

People with Broca’s aphasia lose small linking words from their speech, such as “and,” “or,” “but,” and “on.” The person may talk as though they are under pressure. They can also have difficulty repeating phrases.

However, people with Broca’s aphasia have no difficulty understanding speech or using words in the correct context. This can make having the condition a frustrating experience.

The most common cause of Broca’s aphasia is a stroke in the inferior frontal lobe or the Broca area. These are two parts of the brain that are responsible for speech.

If a stroke affects the Broca area, it is usually due to a blood clot in the middle cerebral or internal carotid artery. Other potential causes include:

If there is an injury to the Broca area, communication breaks down between a person’s thoughts and language abilities.

Less commonly, brain surgery can cause Broca’s aphasia as a complication. This tends to happen in surgeries that involve resections in two parts of the brain: the ventral sensorimotor cortex, which is responsible for movements that produce speech, and the supramarginal gyrus, which processes language.

However, if this does happen, the aphasia usually resolves in 1 month.

A person with Broca’s aphasia knows what they want to say. However, they have difficulty translating their mental images into speech. This causes problems producing fluent speech. It may happen because the Broca area of the brain plays a role in ordering sounds into words and words into sentences.

One of the main symptoms of Broca’s aphasia is that a person’s sentences are typically short, in snippets of fewer than four words at a time. For instance, they may say, “I walk dog” instead of “I took the dog for a walk.”

Other symptoms include:

  • a limited vocabulary
  • clumsy sound formation
  • difficulty writing, without difficulty reading or understanding speech
  • using words that closely resemble what the person intends to say instead of the exact word, such as saying “car” instead of “truck”

A person with Broca’s aphasia may also have other neurological symptoms, including:

  • facial weakness on the right side
  • hemiparesis or hemiplegia, which is one-sided weakness or lack of control
  • apraxia, which is the loss of ability to perform skilled movements or gestures

People with Broca’s aphasia also commonly have depression.

To diagnose Broca’s aphasia, a doctor will first ask a person or their caregiver about their symptoms.

They will also perform tests to check their:

  • fluency
  • ability to name objects
  • ability to repeat short phrases
  • ability to follow simple and complex commands
  • reading and writing ability

Brain scans may help a doctor diagnose the cause of a person’s aphasia. Examples include:

Doctors tailor treatment for Broca’s aphasia to a person’s individual needs. Speech and language therapy is the main treatment type.

Melodic intonation is an emerging treatment for the condition. It involves learning to say words in a sing-song way, as singing involves a different part of the brain than talking. A speech therapist may encourage people to express their words using musical tones.

Researchers are also exploring the effectiveness of medications, such as:

  • catecholaminergic agents, such as bromocriptine, levodopa, amantadine, and dexamphetamine, which act on neurotransmitters
  • piracetam for enhancing cognition
  • acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, which also act on neurotransmitters
  • neurotrophic factors, which are substances that control cellular reproduction in the nervous system

They are also performing studies to look into transcranial magnetic and transcranial direct stimulation, noninvasive procedures that stimulate neurons.

If a person has Broca’s aphasia due to a stroke, the peak of their language recovery usually happens within 2–6 months. After that point, progress is less likely but not impossible. Some people find that symptoms resolve long after a stroke, so it is worth persevering with treatment.

A person’s social support network is key to their quality of life and mental well-being. Having aphasia can be isolating, as it requires people to socialize in a new way. It may help to look up support groups in the local area.

People can also find resources via:

A person with Broca’s aphasia has difficulty forming fluent sentences. Instead, they speak in short phrases with missing linking words. The condition does not cause difficulty in understanding language. However, it does make it more challenging to communicate with others.

The most common cause of Broca’s aphasia is a stroke. Some people develop the condition due to a brain injury, tumor, or infection. Speech and language therapy is the main form of treatment. Although a person’s outlook can vary, peak language recovery usually happens within 2–6 months in cases that result from a stroke.