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Amnesic or anomic aphasia: symptoms, causes and treatment

Amnesic or anomic aphasia: symptoms, causes and treatment

April 3, 2024

Human language is the result of the interaction of a series of brain activities aimed at collecting, integrating and elaborating messages that the medium sends to the person. When this interaction is altered due to brain damage, language disorders such as aphasias arise.

The problem with aphasia is that the speech emission, understanding and denomination are severely affected. In the last case, the naming of objects, aphasia is referred to as amnesic or anomic aphasia , which causes the person to encounter extreme difficulties when it comes to naming objects.

  • Related article: "Aphasias: the main language disorders"

What is amnesic aphasia?

Although problems in the ability to name objects or people are common in many aphasic disorders, the main characteristic that differentiates amnesic or anomic aphasia from the rest is that in this the anomie must appear relatively isolated .

To clarify this concept a little more, anomie consists in the difficulty of remembering the name of objects, people, elements ... being the person practically incapable of calling things by their name.

In anomic aphasia the person is perfectly capable of understanding what is asked of him, and is even able to correctly point out that object for which he can not find the word. However, trying to name it is impossible .

When this alteration is very pronounced, the person's speech becomes a discourse based on circumlocutions, that is, he needs to use more words and expressions than usual to express a single concept, or he uses words from the same semantic field.

Other particularities to categorize an aphasia as amnesic are:

  • Use of generalizations
  • Preserved repetition
  • Writing and reading comprehension relatively preserved
  • Speak fluently and verbal comprehension intact

Causes of amnesic aphasia

Since the recovery of names in memory is a complicated process that works in association with other intellectual and cognitive gears, it is difficult to locate the cause of aphasia at a specific point in the human brain.

However, in aphasias very pronounced amnesias the lesions in different concrete areas of the brain have as a consequence this type of anomic problems. These sectors are located in the angular region, specifically in the multimodal association cortex of the parieto-temporoccipital area; or in the posterior region of the third temporal gyrus of the predominant hemisphere .

Other scenarios in which amnesic aphasia can be observed are those caused by:

  • Brain tumors
  • Apoplexy
  • Dementia


Usually, the initial symptoms begin to manifest themselves in the early stage of aphasia, during which the person begins to experience problems to designate any object, person, animal, feeling , etc., reaching to develop a total incompetence.

Some of the consequences associated with these symptoms are fainting, headaches and seizures; and problems in the workplace, domestic and academic.

This symptomatology is not usually reestablished in a natural way, only in the case that aphasia is caused by transient ischemic attack (TIA). Thus it is necessary that the person goes to a rehabilitation so that the symptoms are not installed permanently.

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Differences between anomic aphasia and semantic aphasia

Although the classification of aphasias is usually represented as independent, in clinical practice this type of aphasia usually occurs along with semantic aphasia.

Unlike the anomic, semantic aphasia takes the form of a deficit for the understanding of logical-grammatical structures . In this aphasia the person is unable to understand the full meaning of a sentence and the relationship exists between the parts that form it.

At the level of oral or conversational language the skills remain relatively preserved , being very common the tendency to forget words, hence the relationship between these types of aphasias.

  • You may be interested: "The 8 types of speech disorders"

Tests and diagnosis

There are a series of evaluation and diagnosis batteries indicated to evaluate the language in all its aspects. Being especially useful at the time of making a first screening.

One of the best known tests is the Boston Test , among whose objectives are:

  • Evaluation of the capabilities of the person in each of the areas of language with the intention of developing a specific action plan.
  • Specification and diagnosis of a clinical picture , thus specifying the place of the injury.
  • Evaluation of the degree of deficit of the patient.

In addition, there is a series of specific tests that only examine some specific aspect of the language, and that can be useful for developing a plan of action tailored to the needs of the person.

Some of these tests are:

  • Totem test for the evaluation of oral comprehension
  • Pizzamilio test for the evaluation of syntactic comprehension
  • Boston vocabulary test that specifically studies the denomination
  • Audrey Holland test to gauge communication skills in daily life
  • CADL test for the specific assessment of communication skills beyond the specific alterations of speech.

Intervention and treatment

After the diagnosis, it is essential to develop an intervention or rehabilitation program that allows the patient to function in their daily life as easily as possible.

Since anomic aphasia is usually accompanied by symptoms typical of other aphasias, rehabilitation exercises must be accompanied or supplemented with other interventions. In this way the patient manages to improve his access to the lexicon, improve the designation of objects, increase your fluency in speech and, consequently, increase your resources for interaction with other people in your daily life

Therefore, there are a series of objectives to be met during the treatment of amnesic aphasia:

  • Provide skills for language improvement
  • Relearn everyday language
  • Provide psychological support to the patient

Instruct the patient's relatives to communicate with him effectively

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