Language is predominantly a left hemisphere function, yet patients with extensive damage to known language areas often recover quite well in the days to weeks to even years following focal brain injury. This recovery period can be divided into three overlapping stages: acute, subacute, and chronic, each with different underlying neural mechanisms. Reorganization of structure and function through the expression of neural plasticity plays a crucial role in recovery of language at least during the subacute phase of weeks to months after the occurrence of an injury. In this chapter we review the evidence for reorganization of language function after injury, the role it plays in the recovery of language following brain damage, and how knowledge of the mechanisms of recovery will allow design of more effective methods of rehabilitation.
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