lesson24 - 24 Language and the Brain Key Terms and Concepts

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24 Language and the Brain Key Terms and Concepts Neuropsychological assessment Electrical stimulation of the brain Positron emission tomography Magnetic resonance imaging Laterality Broca’s aphasia Broca’s area Anomia Agrammatism Articulation Wernicke’s aphasia Wernicke’s area Conduction aphasia Arcuate fasciculus Dyslexia Alexia Phonemic reading Whole word reading Phonemic awareness Spoonerism Word blends Concordance Heritability Lexical retrieval Speech apraxia Lesson 24 265
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In this lesson we will review the role of the brain in the production and comprehension of human language. Language is modular in the sense that we covered in lesson 4. That is, language consists of several distinct, separable processes. These normally work together in a unified, coherent package and we seldom give conscious attention to what is going on while we are engaged in a conversation. But if something goes wrong, we can see the independence of the components. Until fairly recently, we had to wait for something to go wrong in order to deduce the brain mechanisms of language. Now, however, we have access to a growing group of investigations that use various non-invasive brain imaging technologies to see the brain while it is engaged in some aspect of language. Therefore, we will review both neuropsychological and behavioral neuroscientific approaches to language. The major organization of this lesson is to break language into its modules, beginning with the major ones, speaking and comprehension. Within each, we will review more specific processes. At the end, we will use sign language studies to explore the specificity of these brain regions for language. Speaking Coherent speech requires that we select words from our vocabulary, and utter them clearly in a sequence that is grammatically correct. Individuals who have brain lesions due to stroke may have troubles with all or parts of this process. Selecting Words Known technically as lexical retrieval , speakers somehow access words from memory. It is most directly studied in the context of naming things or actions that are depicted in photos or drawings. When certain brain areas are injured, deficiencies may occur in the retrieval process and these deficiencies are often specific to certain word categories. For example, a group of researchers at the University of Iowa studied 127 persons who had lesions in some part of the brain due to stroke. They showed these people over 300 photos of well-known people, animals, or tools and asked them to name the entity as specifically as possible (e.g., Santa Claus, squirrel, or screw driver). Of these people, 97 performed as well on this task as a group of control individuals who did not have any known form of brain damage. Of the 30 who were impaired in the naming process, 29 had lesions only on the left side of the brain, although the size and positioning of their lesions varied. Some of these individuals had a naming deficiency that was
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lesson24 - 24 Language and the Brain Key Terms and Concepts

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