Subcortical aphasia develops as a result of damage to subcortical brain areas without loss of cortical functions. Although earlier voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping (VLSM) studies have shown possible neural correlates for aphasia, it remains to be clarified which brain regions are associated with subcortical aphasia. The aim of this study was to investigate the neural substrates associated with subcortical aphasia in patients with stroke using VLSM and atlas-based analyses to explore the involvement of white matter tracts and subcortical structures. Fifty patients with subacute subcortical stroke without cortical involvement were retrospectively enrolled: 24 with and 26 without aphasia. We performed VLSM and atlas-based analyses of the patients’ fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images and found that the left perisylvian white matter, left fronto-occipital fasciculus, uncinate fasciculus, and forceps minor were significantly more greatly affected in the aphasia than in the non-aphasia group. The left anterior thalamic radiation, cingulum (cingulate gyrus), and superior longitudinal fasciculus also showed higher involvement in this group (marginal significance). Among the subcortical regions, the left caudate and putamen were more greatly involved in the aphasia group. Our findings confirm language processing as one of the integrated sensory-motor processes that occur in the region around the left sylvian fissure. Our atlas-based analysis approach can be used to complement VLSM analyses.
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