Broca’s Area: Not really the seat of speech in the brain


A new study revealed that the iconic Broca’s area of the brain, well-known as the seat of articulation, is not really responsible for speech production. This region of the brain which was considered as the speech centre for almost 150 years actually switches off when we talk out loud, according to this research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

New findings will better help map out the brain’s speech regions (Photo courtesy of Adeen Flinker)
New findings will better help map out the brain’s speech regions (Photo courtesy of Adeen Flinker)

This discovery also revealed that instead of controlling speech, Broca’s area manages it by manipulating and forwarding neural information across large scale cortical networks which are responsible for speech production. This means that even though the Broca’s area shuts down while you speak it may remain active to help you plan your next words and consecutive sentences.

Traditionally, neuroscientists organized the brain’s language centre into two main regions – one for perceiving and other for producing speech. With this complete role reversal, it seems like the Broca’s area is now a mode of transport for the neural information related to speech than the initial and final destination. Which means that the neuroscientists and surgeons will now have to change the way they map out language and classify language impairments.

This finding is crucial as it will play a major role in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases like epilepsy, stroke and brain injuries that result in language impairments. Further, this study may also lead to a better understanding of language mapping in general and the intricacies of speech production in our brain.

Original article can be accessed here.

The original research publication can be accessed here.