Broca’s and Wernicke’s Areas

Broca’s area is a region of the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere. The area was identified as being involved in the production of speech by the French surgeon Pierre Paul Broca in 1861. Broca described a patient who had lost the use of speech, and was only able to pronounce the syllable ‘tan’, but was still able to comprehend spoken language, and communicate with hand gestures. On autopsy, the patient was found to have a lesion in what is now known as Broca’s area (1).

Wernicke’s area is associated with other aspects of language, and is named after the German physician Carl Wernicke. In 1864, Wernicke described a patient who was able to speak, but unable to comprehend language. The patient was found to have a lesion in the posterior region of the temporal lobe (2).


1. Broca, P. P. (1861) “Loss of Speech, Chronic Softening and Partial Destruction of the Left Anterior Lobe of the Brain”, Translation of : Perte de la parole,ramollissement chronique et destructionpatielle du lobe anterieur gauche du cerveau. Bulletins de la Societe d’ Anthropologie 2:235-238, 1861.

2. Sherwood, L. (2004). Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems, 7th ed. (p.150), Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.



Related lecture: Brain Organization for Language: It’s All in the Network, Christine Chiarello