Production of speech is associated with various brain functions. The process through which humans can initiate and translate thoughts into coordinated and articulated speech is a function of a part of the brain known as Broca’s area. It is one of the major areas in the cerebral cortex and a main piece of the puzzle when it comes to the brain region linked to speech production. This area of the brain contains neurons that serve vital roles in speech formation. Keep reading to learn more!
Speech formation is a process through which thoughts, imagination, and knowledge are communicated verbally. For an individual to be able to communicate understandable information through speech, the brain region linked to speech production must be functional. Articulation, voice (using the vocal folds to make a sound), fluency and prosody (which involves the rhythm, stress, and intonation of the sound made) are the attributes of speech. The inability to produce speech sounds that have these attributes is referred to as a speech disorder.
Anatomy of the Broca’s Area
Broca’s area, the brain region linked to speech production, is located in the left hemisphere. It is specifically found in the third convolution anterior to the face of the motor cortex and superior to the Sylvian fissure. It plays a role in language comprehension, sensorimotor learning, motor activities, and integration.
Functional MRI has shown that Broca’s area is also associated with language processing. This is as a result of the connection between Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Wernicke’s area is a region of the brain associated with language comprehension and fluency. This lies in the posterosuperior temporal lobe and connects to the Broca’s area through the neural pathway.
Common Speech Disorders
Broca’s Aphasia is considered a common speech disorder. This condition is a result of damage to the frontal lobe, thereby leading to a speech disorder. When the speech-dominant hemisphere of the brain is damaged, significant difficulty in spontaneous speech production and motor speech control occurs.
People with this condition know exactly what they want to say, but they just can’t put the words together in a coherent and meaningful way. They can comprehend words and sentences, but can’t generate an articulated and fluent speech. Their speech is usually telegraphic, and despite knowing what to say, they are faced with problems of word-finding, word repetition, writing difficulty, and other speech impairments. They make slow and slurred speeches consisting of simple words that are not grammatically correct. For example, they might say “Mom got my new shoes” as “Mom shoe me.”
Wernicke’s Aphasia is a condition that arises as a result of damage to the posterosuperior area of the temporal lobe, Wernicke’s area. Patients with this condition make speeches with little meaning, they have poor comprehension skills, and tend to utter nonsense words.
Global Aphasia includes damage beyond Broca’s region, the brain region linked to speech production, and extending to the Wernicke’s area. It is a more severe case that affects all aspects of speech and language. The patient has comprehension difficulty and can only say and understand a few words and phrases. They can neither read or write, nor repeat the words said to them.
If you know someone with a speech disorder affecting the brain region linked to speech production, or other parts of the brain, check the National Aphasia Association website for helpful resources and support groups.
In addition, you may want to try a brain cognition crossword puzzle to improve your overall brain health and memory.