Scientists at University of California, Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University in Maryland have now challenged this long-held assumption after they found that Broca's area actually switches off when we talk out loud.
    
The discovery has major implications for the diagnoses and treatments of stroke, epilepsy and brain injuries that result in language impairments.

"Our results could help us advance language mapping during neurosurgery as well as the assessment of language impairments," said study lead author Adeen Flinker, a postdoctoral researcher at New York University who conducted the study as a UC Berkeley PhD student.
    
Flinker and fellow researchers found that Broca's area - which is located in the frontal cortex above and behind the left eye - engages with the brain's temporal cortex, which organizes sensory input, and later the motor cortex, as we process language and plan which sounds and movements of the mouth to use, and in what order.
    
However, the study found, it disengages when we actually start to utter word sequences.
    
The study tracked electrical signals emitted from the brains of seven hospitalized epilepsy patients as they repeated spoken and written words aloud.
    
Researchers followed that brain activity – using event-related causality technology - from the auditory cortex, where the patients processed the words they heard, to Broca's area, where they prepared to articulate the words to repeat, to the motor cortex, where they finally spoke the words out loud.
    
The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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