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Brain researchers discover the evolutionary traces of grammar

her. The frontal operculum is connected to the anterior portion of the temporal lobe via special fibre connections (fasciculus uncinatus). By contrast, Broca's area is connected to posterior portions of the temporal lobe through the fasciculus longitudialis superior (see the figure).

Using two different procedures (fMRT and DTI), the Max Planck researchers were thus able to distinguish the two brain areas from each other in structure and function. When simple rules were processed - a task that apes can apparently also perform - the evolutionarily older area of the brain was activated. With more complex rules, on the other hand - which apes cannot apply - Broca's area became active.

This result is highly revealing with respect to the localisation of the functional regions governing language processing in the human brain. Furthermore, it exemplifies how complex questions - such as the origins of the human language faculty - can be investigated by the interdisciplinary combination of modern scientific methods. In future research, the scientific team in Leipzig will examine further consequences of these different connections to the temporal lobe for language processing.


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Contact: Profs. Angela D. Friederici und Jrg Bahlmann
bahlmann@cbs.mpg.de
49-341-9940-112
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
16-Feb-2006


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