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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Which Areas In The Brain Affects Language?

Broca’s Area:
Broca’s Area is the first area of language area in the left hemisphere of the brain. It is named after its first discoverer, Paul Broca, a French neurologist. He once had had a patient with severe language problems. The patient could understand what others speak but with little difficulty. he could produce the only word, ‘tan’. So Broca gave him a pseudonym ‘Tan’. After the death of the patient, Broca performed an autopsy. he then discovered the one area in the frontal lobe has been damaged. It was present just ahead of the motor cortex. He then hypothesized that this area was important in the speech production.
Aphasia is the inability to speak. But the inability to produce speech was then called Broca’s Aphasia or in medical terms Expressive Aphasia. Broca’s area was then found dealing with grammar.
Wernicke’s Area:
Wernicke’s Area is the second language area to be discovered. It was named after a German neurologist, Carl Wernicke. He had had a patient who was capable of speaking quite well. But could not understand what others speak. After the death of his patient, Wernicke performed an autopsy too. he found a damage on an area at the upper portion of the temporal lobe. It was situated just behind the auditory cortex. He hypothesized that this particular area was in connection with speech comprehension.
The inability to understand what others speak and respond, is known as Wernicke’s Aphasia or Receptive Aphasia in clinical terms. They speak strange but meaningful sentences with grammar. Such speech is called ‘Word Salad‘.
Wernicke’s Aphasia was not about speech comprehension only, but also much difficulty naming things and getting confused with words that sound similar, names of things that are related.
Other Areas:
Broca’s and Wernicke’s Areas are quite near to each other despite of their presence in different lobes. They are connected by a tract of nerves called the ‘Arcuate Fascilicus’. When any damage occurs to this nerve, Conduction Aphasia occurs. People with this aphasia are in a much better state. They can understand speech and can produce coherent speech with some difficulty. But they cannot repeat words or sentences they hear.
Angular Gyrus is an area in our brain that can show significant abnormalities in reading and writing. These are linked to language always. The Angular Gyrus lies about halfway between Wernicke’s area and the visual cortex of the occipital lobe. This area is not active in people suffering from problems like Alexia (the inability to read), Dyslexia (difficulties with reading) and Agraphia (the inability to write).
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