December 24, 2008

Rice study focuses on the brain and words

Findings from a study on the brain and speech could aid stroke patients who have problems choosing words, say Rice University researchers in Houston.

The new research by Rice psychologist Tatiana Schnur clearly identifies the regions of the brain involved in choosing appropriate words during speech, the university announced Wednesday.

Schnur and her colleagues compared brain scans from 16 healthy volunteers and 12 volunteers who suffered from a language disorder as a result of stroke, said the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While two parts of the brain -- the left inferior frontal gyrus and the left temporal cortex -- are involved in speech, only the frontal gyrus is necessary to resolving appropriate word production, the study found.

The frontal gyrus includes the Broca's area, named after the 19th-century French scientist Paul Pierre Broca. The Broca's area is responsible for language processing and language comprehension.