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Broca and Wernicke are dead – it’s time to rewrite the neurobiology of language

04 November 2016

A new paper suggest the “Classic Model” of the neurological basis of language function is obsolete.

Flick through any neuropsychology textbook and you’ll hear about the nineteenth century pioneers Paul Broca and Carl Wernicke, who showed that language production and comprehension are subserved by two distinct brain regions, which came to be known as Broca’s and Wernicke’s area, respectively.

You’ll learn too about another neurology pioneer, Norman Geschwind who described how these two regions are joined by a key connective tract – the arcuate fasciculus.

This is the “Classic Model” of the neurological basis of language function – a revolution in our understanding at the time, and hugely influential to this day. But according to a compelling new paper discussed on our Research Digest blog, the Classic Model is obsolete and no longer fit for purpose.

What’s more, its legacy and the continued use of its terminology is hampering progress in the field, in terms of research and medical practice.


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