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How does the Human brain process speech?

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How Does The Brain Process Speech?

How does the Human brain process speech

How does the Brain Process speech?

  • Our abilities to produce and understand speech are amazing. But these exceptional abilities aren’t nearly as mysterious as they once were.
  • In recent decades, psychologists and other scientists have gained a much clearer picture of the regions of our brains that play key roles in speech. We say “regions” because, in fact, several areas are important. It is the combined functioning of all of them that allows us to produce and comprehend speech.

Brain areas involved in language processing and speech

Brain Areas involved in understanding speech
  1. Broca’s Area.
  2. Wernicke’s area
  3. Primary Auditory Cortex
  4. Posterior Language Area

Watch the Below Video For a brief understanding How does the brain Process and Understands Speech?

How Does The Brain Process Speech? Broca's Area & Wernicke's AreaHow Does The Brain Process Speech? Broca’s Area & Wernicke’s Area
  1. Broca’s Area – speech production

  • Let’s start with speech production. Here, a region in the frontal lobe near the primary motor cortex, known as Broca’s area, is crucial.
  • Broca’s Area is the region in the prefrontal cortex that plays a role in the production of speech.
  • Injury to this area disrupts the ability to speak, producing a condition known as Broca’s aphasia. 
  • People with Broca’s aphasia produce slow, rugged speech that is agrammatical in nature. It does not follow normal rules of grammar.  
  • Persons with Broca’s aphasia can’t seem to find the word they want; and even if they do, they have difficulty pronouncing these words. 
  • When Broca’s area is damaged, therefore, the ability to produce legible speech is impaired.
  1. Wernicke’s area – Word recognition

  • The task of speech comprehension – understanding what others say, seems to be focused largely in another region of the brain located in the temporal lobe.
  • This Region is known as Wernicke’s Area: An area in the temporal lobe that, through its connection with other brain areas, plays a role in the comprehension of speech.
  • Damage to this region (Wernicke’s area), produces three major symptoms:
    1. Inability to recognize spoken words (i.e., to tell one word from another)
    2. Inability to understand the meaning of these words.
    3. Inability to convert thoughts into words. 
  • Together, these symptoms are known as Wernicke’s aphasia.

  1. Primary Auditory Cortex

  • The primary auditory cortex is found in the temporal lobe. 
  • The primary auditory cortex is the region of the brain that is responsible for the processing of auditory (sound) information.
  • It is that region of the temporal lobe which receives sound and is accountable for the ability to hear.
  • The primary auditory cortex is involved with combining and processing complex auditory signals, which includes language understanding.
  1. Posterior Language Area – an interface between Wernicke’s area and perceptions and memories

  • If an area behind Wernicke’s area (sometimes known as the posterior language area) is damaged but Wernicke’s area itself is spared, persons can repeat words they hear but have no understanding of their meaning – (Inability to understand the meaning of the spoken words)
  • If both Wernicke’s area and the posterior language area are damaged, then all three symptoms of Wernicke’s aphasia result: Persons with such injuries can’t recognize spoken words, understand their meaning, or convert their ideas and thoughts into words. 

How does the Brain Process Speech?

how does the brain process speech
  • Processing and Comprehension of speech involves a flow of information from Wernicke’s area to the posterior language area and then to sensory association areas and back again. Speech production involves the flow of information from sensory association areas to the posterior language area and then to Broca’s area. 
  • This is probably an oversimplification of a highly complicated process, but it is compatible with current knowledge about the role of the brain in speech.

You can also read about How Human Brain Process Visual Information.

Recommended Read: Visual Perception By Human Brain.

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