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Reading impairments are a common consequence of left hemisphere stroke. They can occur as isolated reading impairments (pure alexia) or in the context of a more general speech and language impairment (central alexia). In both conditions, the sudden loss of reading ability can have a very negative impact on quality of life and the ability to return to work. There is no standard treatment for reading impairments, and as NHS provision of speech and language therapy diminishes, evidence-based therapy apps are one possible solution for the growing treatment gap.

In this talk I will describe the results of two clinical trials of reading therapy in pure and central alexia, using a novel word training app called ‘iReadMore’. Both trials resulted in significant improvements in word reading ability, but with limited generalisation to untrained words or sentence-level reading. In the central alexia trial, non-invasive brain stimulation (transcranial direct current stimulation, tDCS) of the left inferior frontal gyrus resulted in a facilitation of word learning, and improved generalisation to untrained items. Neuroimaging studies using MRI and MEG investigated the neural networks involved in reading, and gave insights into the possible mechanisms underlying the therapy effects.