How Localized are Language Brain Areas? A Review of Brodmann Areas Involvement in Oral Language

Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2016 Feb;31(1):112-22. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acv081. Epub 2015 Dec 12.


The interest in understanding how language is "localized" in the brain has existed for centuries. Departing from seven meta-analytic studies of functional magnetic resonance imaging activity during the performance of different language activities, it is proposed here that there are two different language networks in the brain: first, a language reception/understanding system, including a "core Wernicke's area" involved in word recognition (BA21, BA22, BA41, and BA42), and a fringe or peripheral area ("extended Wernicke's area:" BA20, BA37, BA38, BA39, and BA40) involved in language associations (associating words with other information); second, a language production system ("Broca's complex:" BA44, BA45, and also BA46, BA47, partially BA6-mainly its mesial supplementary motor area-and extending toward the basal ganglia and the thalamus). This paper additionally proposes that the insula (BA13) plays a certain coordinating role in interconnecting these two brain language systems.

Keywords: Broca's area; Brodmann areas; Language; Meta-analysis; Wernicke's area.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Broca Area / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Wernicke Area / physiology*