How the Broca's Area of the Brain Functions (2023)

Broca's area is a region of the brain that plays a critical role in speech production and language comprehension. While its exact role in speech is not fully understood, it is believed to interact with sensory information and relay signals to the motor cortex in order to coordinate the movements necessary for producing spoken words.

This region of the brain was named after the eminent French physician Paul Broca who first discovered its significance in the mid-19th century. Broca was interested in brain lateralization, which suggested that certain functions were associated with specific brain regions. Broca observed that people with damage to this area of the brain experienced deficits in speech production.

The condition associated with damage to Broca's area is known as Broca's aphasia, characterized by problems producing fluent, spontaneous speech.

Where Is Broca’s Area Located?

Broca's area is found in the brain's inferior frontal gyrus, which makes up part of the frontal lobe. In most people, Broca's area is in the brain's left cerebral hemisphere. However, the exact position of Broca’s area is debated among neurologists.

Functions of Broca’s Area

While researchers know that Broca's area plays a role in language production, its precise role is not yet fully understood. It may play a part in various functions, including syntax, grammar, verbal working memory, or the muscle movements needed for speech.

One study found that Broca's area is responsible for mediating a complex series of events, from interacting with sensory information to developing a plan for speaking and then transmitting this information to the motor cortex to control the mouth's movements during speech.

Speech Production

Broca's area is essential in speech production. This area of the brain acts as a command center, orchestrating the complex muscle movements necessary for articulating spoken words. To form words and sentences, Broca's area must relay signals to coordinate the muscles of the lips, tongue, and throat.

Language Comprehension

While traditionally associated with speech production, this region also plays a crucial role in understanding and interpreting language.

Research has demonstrated that Broca's area is activated during sentence comprehension tasks. It helps people extract meaning from sentences and comprehend the nuances of language.

While Broca's area is important for language production and comprehension, it is important to remember that the ability to speak and understand language is part of a complex and dynamic network.

Other parts of the brain play a role, and the full function of language and communication also involves language regions of the brain interacting with other brain networks.

One study involved re-examining the preserved brains of Broca's original patients using MRI technology. In addition to the surface lesions that Broca observed, researchers found that the lesions in both patients extended into the medial regions of the brain. These findings suggest that the area currently identified as Broca's area differs from the area that Broca identified as important for speech articulation. It also indicates that other areas of the brain contribute to speech deficits.

Other Cognitive Functions

Researchers suggest that the region known as Broca's area is both structurally and functionally heterogeneous. One distinct subregion is involved in the brain's language network, while the other is part of what is referred to as a multiple-demand network.

Multiple-Demand Network

The multiple-demand network involves frontal and parietal brain regions active during a diverse range of cognitive processes. This means that in addition to its role in speech, Broca's area is also likely involved in aspects of high-level cognition and executive function, such as cognitive control and working memory.

Examples of How Broca’s Area Works

An example of using your Broca's area in everyday life would involve any type of verbal communication, whether a casual conversation with a friend or a formal presentation at work.

This region of the brain helps you plan and organize the words and sentences you want to use to express yourself. It also plays a part in helping you create the appropriate syntax and grammar required to articulate what you mean.

Broca's Area vs. Wernicke's Area

Broca's and Wernicke's areas are associated with language, but they are distinct regions and serve different functions.

Some key differences between the two include:

  • Location: While Broca's area is found in the posterior part of the frontal lobe on the left side of the brain, Wernicke's area is part of the superior temporal gyrus in the left hemisphere.
  • Function: Broca's area is essential in speech production and coordinating the movements needed to speak. However, Wernicke's area is associated with language comprehension and the ability to understand spoken and written words.
  • Dysfunction: Damage in Broca’s area leads to a loss of fluency and causes people to struggle to form words. On the other hand, people with damage to Wernicke's area have trouble producing meaningful speech and struggle to understand others.

Broca's Area

  • Located in the posterior part of the frontal lobe

  • Involved in speech

  • Damage to Broca's Area impairs speech

Wernicke's Area

  • Part of the superior temporal gyrus

  • Involved in understanding speech

  • Damage to Wernicke's Area impairs speech comphrension

What's the Same?

However, it is important to note that the two regions are connected through a pathway known as the arcuate fasciculus. This allows the two areas to communicate to integrate the production and comprehension of language.

What Happens If Broca’s Area Is Damaged?

Damage to Broca’s area is most notably associated with problems with speech. However, this brain region also plays a role in other functions, so other motor and cognitive impairments may occur.

Broca's Aphasia

Damage to this area can result in a condition known as Broca's aphasia, also known as expressive aphasia. This condition is characterized by difficulty generating fluent speech while keeping comprehension abilities relatively intact.


Aphasia is a language disorder that makes it difficult to use language. In the case of Broca's aphasia, this difficulty centers on the ability to produce fluent speech.

While people with Broca's aphasia struggle to produce language, they can usually still comprehend spoken and written language. This can be a source of considerable frustration since they are able to understand what others are saying but struggle to express themselves effectively.

What Are the Symptoms of Broca's Asphasia?

Common symptoms of Broca’s aphasia include:

  • Non-fluent speech: People with this condition struggle to articulate words and complete sentences. Their speech is often short and fragmented, emerging slowly and with great effort.
  • Reduced vocabulary: Broca's aphasia also creates difficulty accessing words when speaking. People with the condition often rely on a reduced or limited vocabulary of frequently used words.
  • Grammar impairments: Broca's aphasia also makes it more difficult to utilize grammar correctly when speaking. This may lead to grammatically incorrect sentences that omit certain parts of language or incorrect verb tenses.

Broca's aphasia can also differ in severity. Some people experience milder symptoms and may be able to recover some function through speech therapy and other rehabilitation services. Others may have much more severe impairments that lead to lasting difficulties.

Common causes of damage to Broca's area include strokes,blood clots, brain infections, tumors, and traumatic brain injuries. Short-term Broca's aphasia may also occur due to a type of brain surgery involving resecting (removing) two parts of the brain. In such cases, this side effect typically goes away after about a month following surgery.

How Do I Activate Broca’s Area?

Broca's area is naturally activated by any activity involving the language process, which is strongest during tasks involving speech production.

Strategies that you can use to stimulate Broca's area include:

  • Reading out loud: The next time you read something, whether it is a book or an online article, try reading aloud. It is a great way to activate Broca's area and practice verbal articulation skills.
  • Having conversations: Talking to other people, whether chatting on the phone with a friend or sharing your thoughts with someone in person, is a great way to activate Broca's area. To speak, Broca's area must plan and coordinate the movements necessary to produce speech.
  • Speech exercises: Tongue twisters or other diction exercises can challenge Broca's area while improving your speech coordination and articulation. Regularly engaging in such exercises can help strengthen the neural connections in Broca's brain area.
  • Brain games: Try your hand at language-based games and puzzles that require you to engage in structuring sentences or associating words.

If you've experienced a brain injury that has affected Broca's area, speech-language therapy can be helpful. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can work with you on targeted activities to address your unique challenges.

10 Best Brain Games to Keep Your Mind Sharp

How Do I Keep Broca's Area Healthy?

In addition to regularly engaging in activities that activate Broca's area, you can keep this region healthy by supporting your overall brain health. Strategies that work include:

  • Following a healthy lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and regular physical exercise are critical for brain health. Exercise has been linked to better brain health overall, and it can help protect cognitive abilities, including language processing, as you age.
  • Stimulating your mind: Staying mentally active is important for the health of your mind. Look for activities that utilize language skills, such as learning new languages, reading books, and solving word puzzles.
  • Building your language skills: Broca's area is critical to language abilities, so you can help keep those skills sharp by engaging with spoken and written language often. Read books, have conversations, and write in a journal. Staying socially active is also a great way to protect your cognitive abilities and foster stronger language skills.

Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries

It is also essential to protect your brain from damage by wearing a helmet or other protective gear, particularly when engaging in activities with an increased risk of head injury.

What Is Neuroplasticity?

11 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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  2. Flinker A, Korzeniewska A, Shestyuk AY, et al. Redefining the role of Broca’s area in speech. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2015;112(9):2871-2875. doi:10.1073/pnas.1414491112

  3. Rogalsky C, Almeida D, Sprouse J, Hickok G. Sentence processing selectivity in Broca's area: evident for structure but not syntactic movement. Lang Cogn Neurosci. 2015;30(10):1326-1338. doi:10.1080/23273798.2015.1066831

  4. Hagoort P. Nodes and networks in the neural architecture for language: Broca's region and beyond. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2014;28:136-141. doi:10.1016/j.conb.2014.07.013

  5. Dronkers NF, Plaisant O, Iba-Zizen MT, Cabanis EA. Paul Broca's historic cases: High resolution MR imaging of the brains of Leborgne and Lelong. Brain. 2007;130(Pt 5):1432-1441. doi:10.1093/brain/awm042

  6. Fedorenko E, Blank IA. Broca's area is not a natural kind. Trends Cogn Sci. 2020;24(4):270-284. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2020.01.001

  7. Ivanova MV, Zhong A, Turken A, Baldo JV, Dronkers NF. Functional contributions of the arcuate fasciculus to language processing. Front Hum Neurosci. 2021;15:672665. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2021.672665

  8. Fridriksson J, Fillmore P, Guo D, Rorden C. Chronic Broca's aphasia Is caused by damage to Broca's and Wernicke's areas. Cereb Cortex. 2015;25(12):4689-96. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhu152

  9. Andrews JP, Cahn N, Speidel BA, et al. Dissociation of Broca’s area from Broca’s aphasia in patients undergoing neurosurgical resections. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2023;138(3):847-857. doi:10.3171/2022.6.JNS2297

  10. Mandolesi L, Polverino A, Montuori S, et al. Effects of physical exercise on cognitive functioning and wellbeing: Biological and psychological benefits. Front Psychol. 2018;9:509. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00509

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How the Broca's Area of the Brain Functions (1)

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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How does the Broca's area function? ›

Broca's area is a key component of a complex speech network, interacting with the flow of sensory information from the temporal cortex, devising a plan for speaking and passing that plan along to the motor cortex, which controls the movements of the mouth.

What is the function of Broca's area quizlet? ›

The Broca's area is one of the main areas of the cerebral cortex responsible for language production. This area controls motor functions involved with speech production, such as forming words.

How do you improve Broca's area function? ›

Broca's aphasia requires treatment with speech therapy. It's not expected to improve on its own. Speech therapy involves working with a speech-language pathologist, both in person or online, can greatly enhance progress.

How does Broca's area help with memory? ›

According to one view, Broca's area is involved in processing a subcomponent of syntactic processing. Another view holds that it contributes to sentence processing via verbal working memory.

What best describes the Broca's area? ›

Answer and Explanation: Broca's area is best described as d) a premotor area for speech sounds. Broca's area is a small section of the left frontal lobe that is named after Pierre Paul Broca, who identified the area as responsible for the use of spontaneous speech and motor speech control.

What function is affected if the Broca's area is damaged? ›

As a result of a lesion in Broca area, there is a breakdown between one's thoughts and one's language abilities. Thus, patients often feel that they know what they wish to say but are unable to produce the words. That is, they are unable to translate their mental images and representations to words.

What is the Broca area of the brain quizlet? ›

Broca's area or the Broca area /broʊˈkɑː/ or /ˈbroʊkə/ is a region in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere (the dominant hemisphere) of the hominid brain with functions linked to speech production.

Which parts of the brain play an important role in speech function? ›

The frontal lobe contains Broca's area, which is associated with speech ability.

What are the primary functions of the Broca's and Wernicke's areas in language? ›

Both Wernicke's area and Broca's area play a critical role in human language. While Wernicke's area controls the ability to understand the meaning of words, Broca's area, in conjunction with the motor cortex, controls the ability to speak those words.

What stimulates Broca's area? ›

Artificial grammar learning constitutes a well-established model for the acquisition of grammatical knowledge in a natural setting. Previous neuroimaging studies demonstrated that Broca's area (left BA 44/45) is similarly activated by natural syntactic processing and artificial grammar learning.

How does the Broca's area develop? ›

Those authors found that myelination in the classic language areas, that is, Broca's and Wernicke's areas, reaches mature appearance by 18 months, which coincides with the age at which children begin to actively produce language and initiate grammatical development.

How does Broca's area affect learning? ›

The role of Broca's area in sentence processing remains controversial. According to one view, Broca's area is involved in processing a subcomponent of syntactic processing. Another view holds that it contributes to sentence processing via verbal working memory.

Does Broca's area affect memory? ›

The other is that Broca's area is involved in working memory processes that support sentence comprehension in high-load conditions (Caplan and Waters, 1999; Just and Carpenter, 1992; Martin, 2003).

Which part of the brain is most responsible for memory and language? ›

Most available evidence suggests that the functions of memory are carried out by the hippocampus and other related structures in the temporal lobe.

How do you communicate with Broca's aphasia? ›

You can encourage the person with aphasia to use other ways to communicate, such as:
  1. Pointing.
  2. Hand gestures.
  3. Drawings.
  4. Writing out what they want to say.
  5. Signing out what they want to say.
May 2, 2022

How do people with Broca's aphasia communicate? ›

People with Broca's aphasia may understand speech and know what they want to say, but they frequently speak in short phrases that are produced with great effort. They often omit small words, such as "is," "and" and "the."

What part of the brain controls your speech? ›

In general, the left hemisphere or side of the brain is responsible for language and speech. Because of this, it has been called the "dominant" hemisphere. The right hemisphere plays a large part in interpreting visual information and spatial processing.

What is the Broca's area in simply psychology? ›

Broca's area is recognized as one of the main language centers of the brain. This region is associated with the production of speech and written language, as well as being linked with the processing and comprehension of language.

Why can't I remember words when talking? ›

When someone has specific difficulty retrieving words, it's called anomic aphasia, or anomia. We will examine what anomic aphasia is, explain how you treat it with speech therapy and provide tips for how you or a loved one can better communicate when dealing with this disorder.

Why can't I think of words when I'm talking? ›

Aphasia is a communication disorder that makes it hard to use words. It can affect your speech, writing, and ability to understand language. Aphasia results from damage or injury to language parts of the brain. It's more common in older adults, particularly those who have had a stroke.

What is part of Broca's area? ›

Broca's area is located in the third frontal convolution of the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and is composed of two adjacent anatomical areas: the more rostral pars triangularis (Brodmann's area 45) and the immediately caudal pars opercularis (Brodmann's area 44).

Which part of the brain is responsible for thinking and planning? ›

The frontal lobe, located behind the forehead, does much of the work of complex thinking, like planning, imagining, making decisions, and reasoning.

Which part of the brain contains Broca's area which is responsible for the production of speech quizlet? ›

(A) The Broca's area is located in the left frontal lobe. It is necessary for combining sounds into words and arranging words into meaningful sentences.

What are the functions of speech? ›

Speech function is a way of someone delivers ideas in communication to make listeners understand the ideas well. Speech function itself can be divided into four kinds: statement, question, command and offer.

Which part of the brain has the main responsibility to maintain balance and equilibrium? ›

Cerebellum. This is the back of the brain. It coordinates voluntary muscle movements and helps to maintain posture, balance, and equilibrium.

How do Broca's and Wernicke's areas communicate? ›

Broca's area and Wernicke's area are connected by a large bundle of nerve fibres called the arcuate fasciculus. This language loop is found in the left hemisphere in about 90% of right-handed persons and 70% of left-handed persons, language being one of the functions that is performed asymmetrically in the brain.

How are Broca's and Wernicke's areas involved in language and speech processing? ›

Broca's area is primarily responsible for language production; damage to this area results in productive aphasia. Wernicke's area is primarily responsible for language comprehension; damage to this area results in receptive aphasia. The primary auditory cortex identifies pitch and loudness of sounds.

How do the functions of Broca's area and Wernicke's area each relate to the activity of the surrounding cortex? ›

How do the functions of Broca's area and Wernicke's area each relate to the activity of the surrounding cortex? Broca's area and Wernicke's area are the areas of the brain that perform different functions. Broca's area controls skeletal muscles, and Wernicke's area is involved in hearing.

How did Broca discover the part of the brain responsible for speech? ›

Upon examining the brain, Broca found a crater in the left frontal lobe that he described as being as large as a "chicken's egg." The combination of a left frontal lobe lesion with a deficit in the production of speech caused Broca to recognize this case as a seminal one in the localization argument.

Does Broca's area affect reading? ›

Writing in Broca's aphasia tends to be impaired analogously to speech output, but reading ability may be only mildly impaired; writing will exhibit misspellings, letter omissions, poor formation of letters, and agrammatism.

Is Broca's area involved in comprehension? ›

Broca's area in the human prefrontal cortex and Wernicke's area in the human temporal lobe are the two most well-known cortical areas involved in the production and comprehension of speech.

How does Broca's aphasia affect daily life? ›

Aphasia primarily impacts speech, but comprehension, reading and writing can also be affected, making it challenging for survivors to communicate and navigate daily life. Aphasia does not affect a survivor's intelligence. Survivors with aphasia typically know what they want to say. They just may not be able to say it.

What is difficulty speaking called? ›

Dysarthria means difficulty speaking. It can be caused by brain damage or by brain changes occurring in some conditions affecting the nervous system, or related to ageing.

Which part of the brain has power of memory? ›

Hippocampus. The hippocampus, located in the brain's temporal lobe, is where episodic memories are formed and indexed for later access. Episodic memories are autobiographical memories from specific events in our lives, like the coffee we had with a friend last week.

Which part of the brain is responsible for intelligence memory? ›

Final answer: Part of the brain that controls intelligence and memory is cerebrum.

How does Broca's area affect speech? ›

Broca's area, located in the left hemisphere, is associated with speech production and articulation. Our ability to articulate ideas, as well as use words accurately in spoken and written language, has been attributed to this crucial area.

What are the functions of Broca's and Wernicke's area? ›

Both Wernicke's area and Broca's area play a critical role in human language. While Wernicke's area controls the ability to understand the meaning of words, Broca's area, in conjunction with the motor cortex, controls the ability to speak those words.

What role to Broca's area and Wernicke's area play in language? ›

Recap. Wernicke's area and Broca's area are two areas of the brain that play a part in language. Broca's area is associated with language production, while Wernicke's area is associated with language comprehension.

What part of brain is responsible for speech? ›

In general, the left hemisphere or side of the brain is responsible for language and speech. Because of this, it has been called the "dominant" hemisphere. The right hemisphere plays a large part in interpreting visual information and spatial processing.

What is the main difference between Broca's and Wernicke's aphasia? ›

Wernicke's aphasia causes you to speak in a jumbled “word salad” that others can't understand. Broca's aphasia leaves you with limited language. You might only be able to say single words or very short sentences. But others can usually understand what you mean.

What is the function of the sensory speech area? ›

Hint: Sensory speech area is a part of the cerebrum. It is responsible for the speech and language process in human beings.

What is an example of Broca's area in language? ›

For example, a person with Broca's aphasia might try to say something like, "Mom went to go get milk at the store," or "Mom, we need milk. Go to the store," but she would likely only be able to say, "Mom, milk, store."

Why is it called Broca's area? ›

Etymology. Broca's area is named after Pierre Paul Broca, who first described it in 1861, after conducting a post mortem study on a speech-impaired patient.

What does Wernicke's speech area do? ›

The brain region known as the Wernicke area, shown in blue, supports a critical component of speech production, referred to as phonologic retrieval, in which the phonemes to be articulated, and their temporal order, are represented mentally.


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