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Logo of bmjcrInstructions for authorsCurrent ToCBMJ Case Reports
BMJ Case Rep. 2010; 2010: bcr07.2009.2062.
Published online Feb 8, 2010. doi:  10.1136/bcr.07.2009.2062
PMCID: PMC3029477
Reminder of important clinical lesson
Mother tongue lost while second language intact: insights into aphasia
Ana M Garcia,1 Jose A Egido,1 and Maria Sagrario Barquero2
1Hospital Clinico Universitario San Carlos, Stroke Unit, Avda Martin Lagos, s/n, Madrid, Spain
2Hospital Clinico Universitario San Carlos, Unidad de Patologí­a Cognitiva, Avda Martin Lagos, Madrid, 28040, Spain
Correspondence to Ana M Garcia, amgarciagarcia/at/
Cortical representations of the native language and a second language may have different anatomical distribution. The relationships between the phonologic and orthographic forms of words continue to be debated. We present a bilingual patient whose competence in his mother tongue was disrupted following brain ischaemia. Semantic units were accessible only as isolated letters in written as well as oral language presentation. His second language appeared completely unaffected. Whole word system disturbance of both orthography and phonology pathways of the native language could explain this presentation. It is a great opportunity to learn about the language neural network when a bilingual subject presents with brain ischaemia.
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