Semin Speech Lang 2020; 41(01): 061-070
DOI: 10.1055/s-0039-3399500
Review Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Conversational Therapy in Aphasia: From Behavioral Intervention to Neuromodulation

Paola Marangolo
1  Department of Humanities Studies, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
2  Aphasia Research Lab, IRCCS Santa Lucia Foundation, Rome, Italy
Francesca Pisano
1  Department of Humanities Studies, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
23 December 2019 (online)


This article describes the conversational therapy approach for the treatment of persons with aphasia (PWAs). Around 1970s, this approach was inspired by a series of pragmatic principles and techniques to aphasia rehabilitation whose main objective was to set up a condition of communicative exchange with the PWA using his/her own available communicative resources. Indeed, although language represents the most powerful behavior that humans use for communicating, within the conversational approach any intentional action (i.e., gestures, body movements, facial expression, drawing) can be used to communicate. For this reason, its application is particularly suitable for severe PWAs whose damage has compromised all the modalities of language (i.e., production, comprehension, reading, and writing). In this perspective, the speech-language pathologist's (SLP's) goal is not necessarily focused on restoring the damaged linguistic functions, still today pursued by the cognitive approach, but to ameliorate the use of language by teaching the PWA compensatory, productive strategies, and strengthening his/her residual communicative abilities. In this review, the fundamental principles of the conversational approach together with its modalities of treatment, which emphasize the importance of an active interaction between the SLP and the PWA, are reported. A brief summary of recent experimental evidence which combines conversational therapy with a noninvasive brain stimulation technique, transcranial direct current stimulation, is also included.

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