Authors: Harvey DY, Mass JA, Shah-Basak PP, Wurzman R, Faseyitan O, Sacchetti DL, DeLoretta L, Hamilton RH
Title: Continuous theta burst stimulation over right pars triangularis facilitates naming abilities in chronic post-stroke aphasia by enhancing phonological access
Source: Brain and Language 2019 192: 25-34
Year: 2019
Research Design: Case Series

Background: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been used experimentally to facilitate naming abilities in individuals with chronic post-stroke aphasia. However, little is known about how rTMS confers clinical improvement, hampering its therapeutic value. The present study investigated the characteristics of naming failure that improve following administration of continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS)-an inhibitory form of rTMS-to the right pars triangularis (rPTr) in persons with chronic aphasia. Method(s): Eleven participants with chronic aphasia following left hemisphere stroke named pictures prior to and immediately following cTBS of the rPTr and a control site (vertex) in separate sessions. Prior to stimulation, we obtained two baseline measurements of picture naming ability to determine the extent and type (i.e., phonological vs. semantic) of naming impairment. Items presented for naming during stimulation were those that were named incorrectly in one or both of the baseline sessions (i.e., inconsistent vs. wrong items, respectively). Analyses assessed whether cTBS effects differed depending on the severity and/or type of naming impairment. Result(s): Relative to vertex, cTBS of the rPTr improved naming of inconsistent, but not wrong, items for individuals with more severe baseline naming impairment. Critically, baseline phonological but not semantic naming impairment severity marginally correlated with improved accuracy overall, and significantly correlated with decreased phonological errors following rPTr stimulation. Conclusion(s): CTBS of the rPTr enhances naming by facilitating phonological access during word retrieval, indicating that individuals whose naming impairment is localized to this stage of processing may be most likely to benefit from this rTMS approach.

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