Wernicke's aphasia

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Wernicke's aphasia is a syndrome[1] first described described by German neurologist Carl Wernicke. It was originally known as sensory aphasia but is now known as Wernicke's aphasia in his honor.[2]
Wernicke's drawing of the brain
The syndrome was first noted in a male patient of Wernicke who had suffered a stroke, despite still being able to speak and hear, the man could barely understand what was said to him nor could he understand written words. Following the death of the patient, Wernicke conducted an autopsy and found a lesion in the rear parietal/temporal region of the patient's left brain hemisphere. Wernicke concluded that this region was involved in speech comprehension as it was close to the auditory region of the brain. It is now known as Wernicke's area. The syndrome was first documented in 1874 in The Aphasic Symptom Complex a book which propelled Wernicke to international fame.[3]


The main symptoms of the aphasia comprise loss of comprehension of spoken language, loss of ability to read (silently) and write, and distortion of articulate speech. Although the affected persons may speak fluently with a natural rhythm the result may have no understandable meaning nor syntax although word memory is preserved and words are often chosen correctly. Alexia, agraphia, acalculia, and paraphasia are frequently associated. Some patients are euphoric and/or paranoid.


Bastian's aphasia
Pick-Wernicke syndrome (Arnold Pick)
Wernicke's aphasic syndrome
Kozhevnikov-Wernicke aphasia

Notes & references

  1. http://www.whonamedit.com/synd.cfm/1318.html
  2. http://www.uic.edu/depts/mcne/founders/page0101.html
  3. http://www.uic.edu/depts/mcne/founders/page0101.html