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Using Verb Network Strengthening Treatment (VNeST) for Aphasia Therapy

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

If you haven’t read my post on AbSANT, take a minute and give it a quick read. I talk about ‘generalization’ and why it’s important for having the most effective therapy. VNeST can be another amazing component to aphasia therapy because it also can help with generalization. It is aphasia therapy that targets verbs.

The fundamental theoretical premise of VNeST is that semantic verb networks are represented as neural networks that strengthen via Hebbian learning through repeated activation and use (Edmonds et al., 2009). A growing body of research with young adults suggests that verbs and their related thematic roles are neurally coactivated such that agents and patients prime or facilitate activation of related verbs” Effect of Verb Network Strengthening Treatment (VNeST) in Persons With Aphasia: Extension and Replication of Previous Findings, Lisa A. Edmonds, Kevin Mammino and Jimena Ojeda

Verbs are extremely important targets for therapy because effective communication relies on us being able to access and use verbs effectively. Research on VNeST suggests that aphasia therapy targeting verbs can help promote generalization to untrained targets. Improvement was seen on naming, sentence production, and discourse skills.

VNeST therapy targets verbs and their instruments (think cutting and knife) and verbs and their locations (eating and restaurant) and also verbs and the people executing or receiving the action (called agent or patient). VNeST therapy might look like us saying a verb, then we would ask you to find other words related to that verb, where you might do that verb (location), who might do that verb (agent) and who might receive that action (patient). For example, eating. Ok, who might eat? “Me’ or ‘my children.’ Where might you eat? ‘At home’ or ‘at a restaurant’. And with whom? ‘My family’ or ‘my friend’.

So if speech therapy has ended and you are still wanting to do more work, give VNeST a try. You can even have a friend or family member help you create more worksheets on your own- just Google ‘common verbs’ and put them into a blank VNeST worksheet. You can always add more items to the sentences like where, when, why, etc. Get ready for a challenge!

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