Speech and language functions that require a functioning Broca's area

Cameron Davis, Jonathan T. Kleinman, Melissa Newhart, Leila Gingis, Mikolaj Pawlak, Argye E. Hillis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A number of previous studies have indicated that Broca's area has an important role in understanding and producing syntactically complex sentences and other language functions. If Broca's area is critical for these functions, then either infarction of Broca's area or temporary hypoperfusion within this region should cause impairment of these functions, at least while the neural tissue is dysfunctional. The opportunity to identify the language functions that depend on Broca's area in a particular individual was provided by a patient with hyperacute stroke who showed selective hypoperfusion, with minimal infarct, in Broca's area, and acutely impaired production of grammatical sentences, comprehension of semantically reversible (but not non-reversible) sentences, spelling, and motor planning of speech articulation. When blood flow was restored to Broca's area, as demonstrated by repeat perfusion weighted imaging, he showed immediate recovery of these language functions. The identification of language functions that were impaired when Broca's area was dysfunctional (due to low blood flow) and recovered when Broca's area was functional again, provides evidence for the critical role of Broca's area in these language functions, at least in this individual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Acute ischemic stroke
  • Aphasia
  • Broca's area
  • Magnetic resonance perfusion imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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