Thinking on Treating Echolalia in Aphasia: Recommendations and Caveats for Future Research Directions
We report the cases of two patients presenting a peculiar speech disorder, which we have named “echoing approval”, in which the patients echo, in replying to questions in a dialogue with short phrases, the positive or negative syntactical construction of a question, or its positive or negative intonation, but without any repetition of whole or part of sentences. When asked about their symptoms, the patients replied 80% of the time with “yes, yes”, “that's right”, or “exactly” to positive questions and “no, no” or “absolutely not” to negative questions, regardless of their actual symptoms and oblivious to self-contradiction. In addition, when the examining doctor was speaking to a medical colleague in the patient's presence and using medical terminology that the patient did not understand, he/she agreed or disagreed with any sentence and technical word uttered in a way entirely dependent on the syntax or intonation used. To distinguish this speech disorder from echolalia or verbal perseverations, with which it may be superficially confused, we suggest that it be called “echoing approval”, as it may be part one of the manifestations of the environment-dependency syndrome. This clinical picture was found to be associated with features of transcortical motor aphasia and frontal lobe signs. One patient had a bilateral callosofrontal malignant glioma and the other a probable multiple system atrophy with global deterioration, pre-eminent frontal release signs, diffuse leukoencephalopathy and multiple lacunes. On the basis of these clinical deficits and neuroimaging features, we are unable to delineate the common, or minimal, lesioned network required for this symptomatology to occur, especially in the absence of a series of patients, and with such a difference in both the location and causes of the lesions. However, bilateral frontosubcortical dysfunction was pre-eminent in the clinical picture in both patients, even though more diffuse brain pathology was seen in one, and it might be speculated that dysfunction of the bilateral orbitofrontal and frontomesial motor frontosubcortical circuits might be involved in the aetiology of this peculiar speech disorder.