Thursday, February 6, 2014

Do You Know What Broca's Area Does? #1

Were you taught that Broca’s area in the  frontal cortex of the left hemisphere handles expressive language (speaking) while Wernicke’s area in the posterior area of the left hemisphere handles receptive language (reading and hearing)? That information appears to be out of date, even though some text books reportedly still include it. Using a procedure called Intra-Cranial Electrophysiology (ICE), researchers discovered that it’s neither that simple nor that clear cut. Principal investigator Eric Halgren, PhD, professor in the UCSD Department of Radiology, found that aspects of word identity, grammar, and pronunciation are all computed within Broca’s area. “Crucially, information about the identity of a printed word arrives in Broca’s area very quickly after it is seen, in parallel with its arrival in Wernicke’s. These results suggest that Broca’s area actually consists of several overlapping parts, performing distinct computational steps in a tightly timed choreography, a dance that may simply have been undetectable due to the level of resolution of previous methods.”

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