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Primary progressive aphasia

Primary progressive aphasia is a rare neurological syndrome that impairs language capabilities. People with primary progressive aphasia may have trouble naming objects or may misuse word endings, verb tenses, conjunctions and pronouns. People with primary progressive aphasia can become mute and may eventually lose the ability to understand written or spoken language. Primary progressive aphasia is a type of frontotemporal dementia, a cluster of related disorders that all originate in the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain.

Primary progressive aphasia specifically targets the language center of the brain — located in the brain’s left hemisphere. Brain scans typically show a marked shrinkage of the brain’s language center in people who have primary progressive aphasia. Brain activity also can be diminished.

Symptoms of primary progressive aphasia begin gradually, usually before the age of 65, and tend to worsen over time. Symptoms may vary by individual, depending on which portion of the brain’s language center has been damaged. Symptoms may include:

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