Language comprehension in humans more complicated than previously thought
A probe conducted on the brain by researchers at the Northwestern University suggests that the long-held belief that Wernicke’s area is the prime area of language comprehension might not be accurate. Marek-Marsel Mesulam, lead probe author and director of Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, performed language tests and brain MRIs on 72 patients with a uncommon form of language-affecting dementia called primary progressive aphasia (PPA) in which Wernicke’s area is bruised. He observed that these patients did not exhibit the same trouble with word meaning as stroke victims with similar brain harm. PPA and stroke harm the brain differently; in PPA, cortical areas degenerate, but their underlying fiber pathways that are necessary for communication inbetween different language centers in the brain, remain intact. However, stroke damages large regions of brain. According to Mesulam, this strongly indicates that language comprehension is a sophisticated process that relies on many interconnected brain regions, rather than one constrained area.
Read in more detail in The Scientist.