Wernicke’s Area

Last update: September 19, 2022
By BrainMatters


This area is important for speaking and understanding language. When the area becomes damaged, logical sentences can no longer be formed, and commands cannot be carried out. This disorder is called sensory aphasia.


Wernicke's area is involved in the understanding of language. This area works with Broca's area to produce language. It makes connections between the representation of meaning in the brain, and the sounds that go with it when spoken. It is therefore important when speaking, because first what is going to be said must be considered, and only after this is translated into the spoken sounds. In addition, the area is also important in understanding speech, because here sounds must now be translated back into meaning.


Wernicke's area is located in the posterior portion of the superior temporal gyrus. This area is a part of BA22 and BA40. It is found on the dividing line of the temporal lobe and parietal lobe. The area is not located in both hemispheres, but only in the dominant hemisphere. If you are right-handed, then the left hemisphere is dominant. 

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This area is named after Carl Wernicke. He was a German neurologist from the nineteenth century, and first described a patient who could talk, but did not understand his own language. Carl Wernicke later discovered other disorders that were also named after him, which occurred with damage to other areas of the brain.


Damage to this area results in sensory aphasia (also called receptive aphasia, or Wernicke's aphasia). This is a form of aphasia in which it is difficult to understand things that other people say to you. These patients can speak words themselves, but there is usually no logic to their sentences. For example, they use a lot of verbs in their sentences (an example: '... we are going home so then you are going to eat but yes if you have always worked day and night I always went to sleep for half an hour on the floor stretched out and then ...'). Patients with sensory aphasia usually do not know themselves that their sentences are not correct. This is because they hear the words they utter but cannot translate them into meaning and therefore cannot hear that something is wrong.

Author: Myrthe Princen (translated by Melanie Smekal)

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