An aphasia caused by neurological damage to Wernicke's area, also known as receptive aphasia. Not to be confused with Wernicke's encephalopathy or the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

Speech is preserved but language content is incorrect. This may vary from the insertion of a few incorrect or nonexistent words to a profuse outpouring of jargon. Rate, intonation, and stress are normal. Substitutions of one word for another ("telephone" --> "television") are common. Comprehension and repetition are poor.

e.g. "I called my mother on the television and did not understand the door. It was too breakfast, but they came from far to near. My mother is not too old for me to be young."

If excessive, this may be confused with pressure of speech and word salad. (see Signs and symptoms of Psychiatric Disorders)

Patients who recover from Wernicke's aphasia report that whilst aphasic they found the speech of others to be unintelligible and ... even though they knew they were speaking they could neither stop themselves nor understand what they had just said.


See how this is different from Broca's aphasia.

This condition is suffered by patients who suffer damage to Wernicke’s area, located in the posterior superior temporal lobe. Patients with this condition have been found, in non-verbal tasks which require a subject to point at objects in response to a question, to have poor comprehension of speech.

Sufferers can still produce speech, but although words are produced fluently their utterances have no real meaning, or at least the true meaning is too garbled and disrupted to make sense. Apparently patients are unaware that they do not understand what people are saying to them, since they never display any signs of confusion, and they respond to questions, albeit in an incomprehensible way. They seem to understand the non-verbal aspects of communication such as facial expressions and intonation (they know when a question has been asked from the rising intonation of the questioner). They also follow all the rules of normal conversation, such as turn taking.

Wernicke’s area is in the auditory association cortex, which implies that it is involved with the association of the sequences of sounds which make up words. This was Wernicke’s suggestion, and it has since been corroborated with MRI and CT techniques. This means that not only are patients unable to recognise spoken words and give them meaning, they cannot associate these sounds to create meaningful speech of their own

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