Anomic aphasia is a language disorder that leads to trouble naming objects when speaking and writing. Brain damage caused by stroke, traumatic injury, or tumors can lead to anomic aphasia.
Anomic aphasia goes by several other names, like anomia, amnesic aphasia, and anomic dysphasia.
People with this language disorder often feel they have words on the tip of their tongue. They can still otherwise speak fluently and grammatically correctly. They may have particular trouble with nouns and verbs.
In this article, we’re going to cover the causes of anomic aphasia, risk factors, and potential treatment options.
Anomic aphasia is milder than most other types of aphasia. It’s usually caused by damage to your brain’s left hemisphere. In rare cases, it may be a result of right hemisphere damage.
The left side of the brain controls language and speech for most right-handed people, and the right side of the brain often controls speech for most left-handed people. Most types of aphasia include anomia in their symptoms.
Other types of aphasia, like Broca’s aphasia or Wernicke’s aphasia, are caused by damage to very specific parts of your brain that control speech.
However, anomic aphasia is known as a non-focal brain disease, meaning it isn’t always caused by obvious damage to a specific region of the brain.
Here are some of the potential causes of anomic aphasia.
Stroke is the most common cause of anomic aphasia. When a blood vessel in your brain is blocked, your brain tissue doesn’t receive oxygen. This can cause permanent brain damage near the site of the stroke.
A traumatic brain injury may lead to permanent damage and anomic aphasia, particularly if the damage is in the left hemisphere. Some common causes of brain injury are vehicle collisions, falls, sports injuries, and assaults.
Brain tumors can cause many different types of symptoms, including anomic aphasia. The severity of symptoms may get worse as the tumor grows and causes pressure against your brain.
Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia commonly cause symptoms of anomia in the early stages. It’s thought that these diseases cause problems accessing your lexical of learned words.
Strokes are one of the leading causes of aphasia. Factors that increase the risk of developing a stroke can also increase your risk of developing aphasia. These factors include the following.
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- heart disease
- family history of stroke
- sex (males have a higher risk)
- having overweight
- alcohol misuse
Can stress cause anomic aphasia?
Stress doesn’t directly cause anomic aphasic. However, living with chronic stress may
Learn strategies for how to cope with stress.
Is anomic aphasia a sign of autism?
People with autism often have problems communicating with other people. They may have symptoms similar to the symptoms of anomic aphasia, but at this time, research doesn’t link anomic aphasia to autism.
Anomic aphasia vs. Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease can cause a form of aphasia called primary progressive aphasia. This type of aphasia involves a breakdown of the tissues in the parts of your brain needed for speech, which can lead to symptoms of anomic aphasia.
People with anomic aphasia often forget verbs, nouns, and pronouns when speaking or writing. They may frequently use nonspecific words such as “it” or “thing.” They may be able to describe the function of an object but not be able to remember the name.
Here are some of the types of anomic aphasia.
Word selection anomia
People with word selection anomia can recognize objects but usually can’t come up with the name, even with prompting. For example, if somebody with word selection anomia saw a pencil, they would know that you can use it to write but wouldn’t know what it’s called.
Word production anomia
People with this form of anomic aphasia can’t produce the name for an object. However, they may feel like the word is on the tip of their tongue and may recognize the correct word with cueing.
People with semantic anomia can’t identify an object even when given the correct name. For example, if somebody with semantic anomic was shown the word “screwdriver,” they wouldn’t be able to pick out a screwdriver out of a list of tools.
Disconnection anomia is subdivided into three subcategories: category-specific anomia, modality-specific anomia, and callosal anomia.
Category-specific anomia is an inability to identify one category of objects, such as animals or body parts. It’s common for people with category-specific anomia to have trouble with color identification.
People with modality-specific anomia have trouble identifying objects with a specific sense such as sight or touch.
People with callosal anomia have trouble transmitting information between hemispheres of their brain.
The left hemisphere of your brain is primarily responsible for controlling the production and comprehension of language. It’s also responsible for sensations on the right side of your body, while the right hemisphere of your brain is responsible for sensation on the left side of your body.
A person with callosal anomia holding a hammer in their right hand wouldn’t have trouble identifying it since the sensory information comes from the left side of the brain. If they held it in their left hand, they may have trouble identifying it because sensory information has to travel from their right hemisphere to their left hemisphere for language processing.
If your doctor suspects that you have anomic aphasia, they’ll likely send you to receive a series of verbal and brain imaging tests. These tests help eliminate other brain disorders like anarthria or other types of aphasia that may have similar symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend a hearing test to rule out hearing problems.
Imaging tests like an MRI look for brain damage. Anomic aphasia isn’t caused by damage to a consistent part of the left hemisphere so diagnosis is difficult through brain imagining alone.
Verbal tests aim to find out if the problem is with language comprehension or production. Many types of aphasia cause anomia, but the diagnosis for anomic aphasia is only given if the symptoms of other aphasias aren’t present.
Treatment options for anomic aphasia are similar to the treatment options of other types of aphasia. Some of the more common treatment options include:
Speech therapy is a common treatment option for people with anomic aphasia and can lead to
Visual action therapy
Visual action therapy uses nonverbal methods to help people learn gestures to indicate that an object is missing. It may be used as a treatment option for people with global aphasia, which includes the symptoms of anomic aphasia.
Anomic aphasia therapy activities
Anomia treatment may include activities designed to help you come up with a missing word.
Self-administered exercises using smart tablets may help people with anomic aphasia improve their verb recall. More research needs to be performed to confirm the effectiveness of this treatment option, but
Anomic aphasia is one of the mildest forms of aphasia. Specific recovery times depend on the extent of brain damage and the cause of the aphasia. If brain damage is permanent, a person with anomic aphasia may never regain their full language function.
According to the National Aphasia Association, if symptoms of aphasia last longer than 2 to 3 months after a stroke, a full recovery may not be possible. Though, some people can see improvements for years after the initial incident.
People with anomic aphasia may be able to return to work if they have mild symptoms or if they have a job that doesn’t lean heavily on verbal communication.
Anomic aphasia causes problems in naming objects when speaking and writing. However, it’s one of the mildest forms of aphasia, and there are treatments that can help.
If you think you or somebody you know is dealing with anomic aphasia, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis to rule out similar disorders. A doctor will also be able to recommend the best treatment options.