Pathways to language: fiber tracts in the human brain

Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 Apr;13(4):175-81. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.01.001. Epub 2009 Feb 14.


The human language function is not only based on the grey matter of circumscribed brain regions in the frontal and the temporal cortex but moreover on the white matter fiber tracts connecting these regions. Different pathways connecting frontal and temporal cortex have been identified. The dorsal pathway projecting from the posterior portion of Broca's area to the superior temporal region seems to be of particular importance for higher-order language functions. This pathway is particularly weak in non-human compared to human primates and in children compared to adults. It is therefore considered to be crucial for the evolution of human language, which is characterized by the ability to process syntactically complex sentences.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neural Pathways / physiology