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

The problem with aphasia is that speech output, comprehension and naming are severely affected. In the last case, the naming of objects, aphasia is called amnesic or anomic aphasia , which causes the person to have extreme difficulty in naming objects.

What is amnesic aphasia?

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

To clarify this concept a little more, anomie consists in the difficulty of remembering the name of objects, persons, 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 capable of correctly pointing out that object for which he cannot find the word. However, when trying to name it, he finds it impossible .

When this alteration is very accentuated, the person’s speech becomes circumlocutionary, 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
  • Repeat preserved
  • Relatively preserved writing and reading comprehension
  • Fluent speech and intact verbal comprehension

Causes of Amnesic Aphasia

Since name retrieval 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 any particular point in the human brain.

However, in very pronounced amnesia aphasias, lesions in different specific areas of the brain result in this type of abnormal problem. These sectors are located in the angular region, specifically in the cortex of multimodal association of the parieto-tempoccipital area; or in the posterior region of the third temporal convolution of the predominant hemisphere .


Another scenario in which amnesic aphasia can be observed is that caused by

  • Brain Tumors
  • Stroke
  • Dementia


Usually, the initial symptoms begin to manifest themselves in the early stage of aphasia, during which the person begins to experience problems in designating any object, person, animal, feeling , etc, and eventually develops total incompetence.

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

This symptomatology is not usually restored naturally, only in the case that the aphasia is caused by transient ischemic attack (TIA). Therefore it is necessary for the person to go to a rehabilitation so that the symptoms do not settle permanently.

Differences between anomic aphasia and semantic aphasia

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

Unlike anomics, semantic aphasia results in a deficit for the understanding of logical-grammatical structures . In this aphasia it is impossible for the person to understand the total meaning of a sentence and the relationship between the parts that form it.

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

Testing and diagnosis

There are a number of assessment and diagnostic batteries indicated to evaluate language in all its aspects. They are especially useful when making a first screening.

One of the best known tests is the Boston Test , whose objectives include

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

There are also a number of specific tests that only examine some specific aspect of language, and which can be useful in developing a plan of action tailored to the person’s needs.

Some of these tests are:

  • Totem test for the evaluation of oral comprehension
  • Pizzamil test for evaluation of syntax understanding
  • Boston Vocabulary Test that studies the denomination specifically
  • Audrey Holland’s test to gauge communication skills in everyday life
  • CADL test for specific assessment of communication skills beyond specific speech impairments.

Intervention and treatment

After the diagnosis, it is essential to draw up an intervention or rehabilitation programme that will enable the patient to manage his or her daily life as smoothly as possible.

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

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

  • Provide language improvement skills
  • Re-learning everyday language
  • Provide psychological support to the patient

Instruct the patient’s family members to communicate effectively with the patient