2-Minute Neuroscience: Wernicke's Area
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  • Release Date: 2024-04-03
  • cerebral cortex
  • brain
  • language
  • speech
  • Wernicke's aphasia
Video Introduction

The content is sourced from: https://youtu.be/03Xtiz_ikw4

Wernicke's area is a region in the cerebral cortex that historically has been considered important to language comprehension and the production of meaningful speech. In this video, I discuss the location of Wernicke's area, the deficit that occurs when it is damaged (Wernicke's aphasia), and hypotheses about its role in language.[1][2]

Although there is some debate over the exact location of Wernicke’s area, it is typically considered to reside in the cortex of the left cerebral hemisphere near the junction between the temporal and parietal lobes. Wernicke’s area was named for the German physician Carl Wernicke, who reported that damage to this region results in a deficit where patients are able to produce speech that resembles fluent language but actually is meaningless. The disorder came to be known as Wernicke’s aphasia, and patients who suffer from it do things like use made-up words or similar-sounding words substituted for one another to produce speech that makes little sense. Patients with Wernicke’s aphasia also suffer from a deficiency in their ability to understand language. 

Wernicke proposed a model for language that involved both the region he discovered and another language center: Broca’s area. Broca’s area is thought to play a role in speech production, and Wernicke’s model, which was later expanded on by neurologist Norman Geschwind and called the Wernicke-Geschwind model, suggested that Wernicke’s area creates plans for meaningful speech while Broca’s area is responsible for taking those plans and determining the movements (like of the tongue and mouth) required to turn those plans into vocalizations. 

It’s now thought, however, that this model is too simplistic. Studies indicate that language likely involves widespread networks and cannot be boiled down to a connection between two brain regions. Additionally, evidence now suggests that Wernicke’s area may be involved in speech production rather than just comprehension, and some have claimed it may not be as important to language comprehension as once thought. Thus, researchers are still trying to figure out the precise contribution of Wernicke’s area to language.

  1. Binder, JR. The Wernicke area: Modern evidence and a reinterpretation. Neurology. 2015; 85(24): 2170-2175.
  2. Breedlove SM, Watson NV. Biological Psychology. 7th ed. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc.; 2013.
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Challenged, N. 2-Minute Neuroscience: Wernicke's Area. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1168 (accessed on 25 May 2024).
Challenged N. 2-Minute Neuroscience: Wernicke's Area. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1168. Accessed May 25, 2024.
Challenged, Neuroscientifically. "2-Minute Neuroscience: Wernicke's Area" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1168 (accessed May 25, 2024).
Challenged, N. (2024, April 03). 2-Minute Neuroscience: Wernicke's Area. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1168
Challenged, Neuroscientifically. "2-Minute Neuroscience: Wernicke's Area." Encyclopedia. Web. 03 April, 2024.
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