We used near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to compare functional hemoglobin concentration changes (delta[oxy-Hb] and delta[deoxy-Hb]) over human language and motor cortices. Eight subjects performed finger opposition, tongue movement, and covert visual object naming in an interleaved block paradigm design. NIRS revealed paradigm specific patterns of delta[oxy-Hb] and delta[deoxy-Hb] providing cortical localization of each function. During each task, significant response overlap was observed when comparing the [oxy-Hb] signals, whereas delta[deoxy-Hb] seemed more localized. Furthermore, by applying magnitude and time to significance measures to the delta[deoxy-Hb] response profile, Broca's area was easily distinguished from neighboring tongue (and hand) motor representation. Delta[oxy-Hb] did not provide this level of specificity. These findings suggest delta[deoxy-Hb] as the preferential NIRS parameter to map language cortices.