Friday, 9 September 2011

Are speaking and understanding skills located in the same part of the brain?

Thank you to Mediplacements for allowing us to use this:

A new study claims to lay to rest the debate as to whether speaking and understanding are located in the same part of the brain.

According to the research, published in journal Psychological Science, speaking and understanding are located in the same area of the brain.

Scientists at the Donders Institute at the Radboud University Nijmegen developed technology which allowed an insight into a moving brain - required to study the brains of those who are talking.

Functional MRI technology was used to measure brain activity in those who were either listening to sentences or speaking sentences.

In order to prompt the participants to say the right kind of sentences, authors designed a picture of an action with one person coloured green and the other red so their order in the sentence was clear.

Researchers were then able to work out where in the brain three different speech tasks were occurring.

Computing meaning, coming up with the words and building a grammatical sentence were all seen to take place in the same area.

Researcher Laura Menenti, of the University of Glasgow, explained that although it sometimes appears that those with comprehension issues may be able to speak well, and vice versa, this is not always true.

"Our data suggest that these problems would be expected to always at least partly coincide. On the other, our data confirm the idea that many different processes in the language system, such as understanding meaning or grammar, can at least partly, be damaged independently of each other," she said.

This follows a paper published in journal Nature Neuroscience which suggested protein harmonin, known to play a part in sensing sound in the inner ear, could also be involved in sending information to the brain.

If this is the case, it would explain why the mutation of the protein in Usher syndrome, is associated with the most severe form of the disease.

Written by Megan Smith from Speech Therapy News, Mediplacements

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