2015 Speech and Language

Critical facts iconCRITICAL FACTS:
(if med school is a Minnesota forest with millions of trees, these are the red pines)

  1. Language regions of the brain are specialized for symbolic representation of communication. Mapping of cortical regions responsible for language is clinically important as it can give vital information regarding location and extent of damage. In the vast majority of people (i.e., people who are right handed), the primary functions for semantic processing are located in the left hemisphere.

  2. Many cortical (and non-cortical!) regions are involved in language processing and production.  The primary language pathway begins in Wernicke’s area (posterior temporal lobe), which receives information from the auditory and visual cortices and assigns meaning (= language comprehension).  The arcuate fasciculus connects Wernicke’s area to Broca’s area (posterior inferior frontal lobe).  Broca’s area is responsible for the production of meaningful language. Output from Broca’s area goes to motor cortex for initiation of the complex muscle movements necessary for speech.

  3. Some cortical functions are performed predominantly by the left hemisphere and some by the right. Preferred handedness is NOT ALWAYS correlated with the localization of language function, and the exact location of language areas varies from person to person.

  4. Neurogenic speech disorders are defined as an inability to exchange information with others due to nervous system impairment.  Disturbances in comprehension or formulation of language (aphasias) can be divided into fluent or non-fluent types, and are categorized based on auditory and verbal comprehension and verbal and graphic expression.
Email: Dr. Janet Fitzakerley | ©2015 University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth | Last modified: 4-mar-15 6:45 PM