Enriched and precise language is a unique human ability. Talking makes it possible for us to communicate and express in great detail what we feel and want, with words being the greatest social vehicle we have.
But, although it seems simple to us because we learn to speak very quickly when we are babies, it contains great complexity. Our brain, with its great plastic capacity, has undergone an enormous transformation so that a complex act such as speech becomes an easy skill to master.
In addition, the brain of a baby is tremendously receptive to any stimulus, especially the voice of its mother. The maternal tone of voice and the language adapted to the communication with our babies, known as “ maternés ”, helps the development of language in an effective way.
On the other hand, we have to review there are occasions in which the acquisition of speech is complicated and difficulties arise associated with the malfunction of the brain areas involved in this process. In this case we are talking about aphasias, which occur as a consequence of brain lesions in three main areas associated with language: Broca’s area, Wernicke’s area and the Arch Fasciculus.
Language and the brain
Contrary to popular belief, the areas in charge of language are not the same in each and every one of us. The main distinction has to do with whether we are left-handed or right-handed. For that 97% of the population that is right-handed, the language areas are mostly distributed in the left hemisphere, unlike for left-handed people.
In addition, our brain is hyperspecialized and with language there is no exception. The areas closest to the posterior or occipital part of the skull, that is, Wernicke’s area, collect information from our senses for understanding. Instead, the most frontal part is in charge of executive control, in this case, Broca’s area controls the production of language.
But it is not only about the specialization of the brain, but about how those areas communicate with each other. In the case of language, this function is fulfilled by the Arched Fascicle that guides the information between the Broca and Wernicke areas. For this reason, in Broca’s Aphasia the production of language is damaged, in Wernicke’s Aphasia understanding and in Conduction Aphasia the Arch Fasciculus.
Even so, the world of aphasia is not so simple because brain injuries do not have to affect only a single part of those responsible for language. For this reason there are Transcortical Motor Aphasia, Transcortical Sensory Aphasia, Anomic Aphasia and Global Aphasia.
Speech doesn’t just depend on the brain
But not only is proper brain function necessary for adequate language production, it is also necessary for other structures of the Central Nervous System to function properly. If not, we may encounter the following problems:
Dysarthria: dysarthria is a term that is given to the incorrect articulation of the phonemes and that has a neurological origin due to an injury in the areas of the central nervous system.
Dysglossia: dysglossia is called the incorrect articulation of the phonemes caused by a malformation of the orofacial structures (teeth, lips, nose, jaw, tongue and palate). It is also called “organic dyslalia”.
Dyslalia: this is an inability to correctly pronounce certain phonemes or groups of phonemes. It can be evolutionary or functional.
So as you can see, language is a very complicated skill but when we use it every day we see it very simple. This happens with most of human behaviors, because the human being is essentially complicated and above all the human being is wonderful.