Broca's area is important for spoken language. The famous patient of the discoverer of this area could only say "tan" because this area was damaged in him.
Broca's area is used for speaking language and using grammar. This brain area is divided into two parts, the pars triangularis and the pars opercularis.
The pars triangularis is the anterior part of Broca's area, and important for various aspects of language, such as grammar and sentence structure. For example, this area helps with the sentence "he is punished by his mother. The structure of this sentence determines that "he" is being punished, and not the mother. When the pars triangularis is damaged, a person will understand this sentence as 'he punishes mother', which of course has a different meaning.
The pars opercularis is the posterior part of Broca's area, and especially important for speech. From this area, organs and muscles are controlled that make it possible to speak. The pars opercularis therefore has many connections to motor areas of the brain.
In most individuals, Broca's area is primarily seen in the left hemisphere of the brain, on the surface of the frontal lobe. When Broca's area becomes damaged, however, it is possible that the same area in the right hemisphere may take over some functions.
Broca's area is named after the French physician Paul Pierre Broca. To this doctor came a patient who could only say "tantan. When the patient died, Broca examined his brain and found a lesion. The place where this damage was located was then named Broca's area, after its discoverer.
When Broca's area is damaged, it will be difficult to talk. These people prefer to use nouns, cannot apply grammar rules, or in the worst cases, cannot use meaningful words at all. This disorder is also known as Broca's aphasia.
Author: Myrthe Princen (translated by Thomas von Rein)
Image: Marcel Loeffen