The 3 Types of Transcortical Aphasia

Transcortical aphasia is one of the less common types of aphasia. The more common and well-known forms of aphasia, Broca's aphasia and Wernicke's aphasia result from injuries to areas involved in the production of speech (Broca’s aphasia) or the comprehension of speech (Wernicke’s aphasia).

Side view of grandfather and grandson communicating while having coffee
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Other, less common language deficits can also result when there are injuries to the nerve fibers that carry information between the Wernicke's or the Broca's area, or between these areas and other areas of the brain that process the subtle aspects of language, such as emotion, vocal tone, thinking and facial expressions.

Transcortical aphasias include types of aphasias that are produced by injuries to or from the many connections that integrate the language areas in the brain. There are three main types of transcortical aphasia:

  • Transcortical motor aphasia
  • Transcortical sensory aphasia
  • Mixed transcortical aphasia

Transcortical Motor Aphasia

This language disorder is similar in many ways to Broca’s aphasia, which is primarily characterized by trouble producing spontaneous speech. In essence, people with transcortical motor aphasia cannot say what they want to say because they can’t form the words.

However, if someone who has Transcortical motor aphasia is asked to repeat something, they can do it without difficulty. For instance, a person with this type of aphasia would have difficulty spontaneously saying “I am thirsty." However, it is easier for someone with transcortical motor aphasia to repeat the sentence “I am thirsty” if asked to do so.

Mild transcortical motor aphasia can produce a form of hesitant speech known as telegraphic speech. Transcortical motor aphasia is typically caused by a stroke located nearby Broca’s area, just to the front of it.

Transcortical Sensory Aphasia

Stroke survivors with this rare type of aphasia cannot comprehend what others say but can speak fluently. Someone with transcortical sensory aphasia is able to repeat words or sentences that they hear others say, but cannot understand what those words or sentences mean.

For instance, if your loved one has transcortical sensory aphasia, then when hearing a phrase such as, "are you home?" they might repeat a part of the question and say “you home” or respond to the question with the same phrase “are you home?"This type of aphasia is caused by injuries to areas of the brain which surround Wernicke’s language area, an area that plays a major role in comprehending and understanding language.

Mixed Transcortical Aphasia

Mixed transcortical aphasia results in a speech pattern characterized by the inability to speak or comprehend others when they speak. However, with mixed transcortical aphasia, it is usually possible to repeat words or sentences and sing familiar songs.

In this rare type of aphasia, the main areas of language (Broca's and Wernicke's) are not typically damaged, but the surrounding areas, also known as the language association areas, are injured. It is thought that damage to these association areas leaves Broca's and Wernicke's areas somewhat isolated from the rest of the language system, thus precluding the production of spontaneous speech and the comprehension of spoken and written language. The most common cause of mixed transcortical aphasia is a watershed stroke of the language association areas as a result of severe internal carotid stenosis.

A Word From Verywell

Aphasia is one of the most difficult disabilities to live with after a stroke. There are several different speech patterns that can develop after a stroke, and they all make communication difficult, and possibly frustrating for a stroke survivor and loved ones.

Living with aphasia requires patience, as does caring for a stroke survivor who has aphasia. There are several approaches to speech therapy which can help improve speech and communication to help optimize daily life after a stroke. Be sure to convey your concerns about your speech problems to your medical team so that you can be directed to the best rehabilitation available to you, which may help in improving your overall quality of life as you recover from your stroke.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Fridriksson J, Fillmore P, Guo D, Rorden C. Chronic Broca's aphasia is caused by damage to Broca's and Wernicke's areasCereb Cortex. 2015;25(12):4689–4696. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhu152

  2. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Classification of aphasia.

  3. Lingraphica. Transcortical motor aphasia.

  4. Saadatpour L, Tariq U, Parker A, Doty L, Heilman KM. A degenerative form of mixed transcortical aphasia. Cogn Behav Neurol. 2018;31(1):18-22. doi:10.1097/WNN.0000000000000144

  5. Saadatpour L, Tariq U, Parker A, Doty L, Heilman KM. A degenerative form of mixed transcortical aphasiaCogn Behav Neurol. 2018;31(1):18–22. doi:10.1097/WNN.0000000000000144

Additional Reading

By Jose Vega MD, PhD
Jose Vega MD, PhD, is a board-certified neurologist and published researcher specializing in stroke.