Technology offers our patients vast potential, yet the research literature in this area is often technical and difficult to translate to the day-to-day clinical setting. This article aims to review structural and functional imaging methods and discuss how they are used to study language after stroke. The authors explain that neuroimaging techniques can be classified into those that define the structure of the brain, and those that capture the metabolic function of the brain. The first category is structural neuroimaging and includes: computer tomography (CT); magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI); perfusion-weighted imaging (PWI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). These approaches use X-rays (CT) or magnetisation of protons in the water nuclei in and around tissues of the brain (MRI, DWI and DTI), or magnetisation of radioactive contrast that can track blood flow in the brain (PWI) and provide detailed images of the structural abnormalities post stroke to examine the location of a lesion, consequent cognitive deficits and recovery trajectory. The second category is functional neuroimaging and includes: functional MRI (fMRI); positron emission tomography (PET); electroencephalography (EEG); magnetoencephalography (MEG) and near-infrared spectroscopy. These approaches try to measure neuronal activity by examining changes in blood oxygenation around neurones (fMRI) or measuring electrical energy in clusters of neurones (EEG). These types of studies have helped us understand more about neural networks and how the brain reorganises itself after stroke. fMRI also has the potential to contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of interventions such as transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS). It is valuable for clinicians to understand these techniques and be aware of current research in the field. Their relevance to language recovery is increasing and technology is moving forward, with potentially significant implications for future rehabilitation approaches.

Contributions of neuroimaging to understanding language deificits in acute stroke.
Sebastian R, Breining BL.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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