From words to sentences

The language centres of our brain are connected by two main pathways. Image: Shutterstock

Our brain uses two distinct neural pathways to divide the tasks of comprehending and producing language.

While studying patients with language impairments caused by neurodegenerative diseases, scientists from the University of Arizona (UA) determined that damage to the lower pathway causes patients to forget the meaning of words; but damage to the upper pathway affects the ability to put sentences together.

Dr Stephen Wilson, assistant professor in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at UA said the results may be the clearest evidence to date on differential roles for the two main pathways that connect anterior and posterior language areas. “Language fundamentally requires shared labels for concepts and a means of combining them productively to make novel meanings. This fundamental distinction appears to be respected by the brain.”

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