UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Language & Cognition seminar - Dr William Matchin

09 March 2022, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Language and Cogniiton Seminar series logo

Wednesday, 9 March 2022. 1-2pm UK time. "The Wernicke Conundrum Revisited." Talk held online.

This event is free.

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Disa Witkowska – Language & Cognition

The Wernicke Conundrum Revisited

The classical Wernicke-Lichtheim-Geschwind model of language in the brain has been critiqued from both linguistic and methodological perspectives, due to advances in linguistic theory and the advent of structural and functional neuroimaging methods. Many critiques center around Wernicke’s area: the brain region in the posterior temporal lobe putatively supporting word and sentence comprehension. Many authors point towards a key role for frontal cortex, particularly Broca’s area, in supporting sentence comprehension via a syntactic mechanism, whereas other authors have questioned the role for Wernicke’s area in word comprehension by localizing word comprehension deficits in primary progressive aphasia to the anterior temporal lobe. Here I present structural and diffusion brain imaging data reinforcing the key role for a region in the middle-posterior temporal lobe, essentially identical to Wernicke’s 1881 localization of Wernicke’s area, in both word and complex non-canonical sentence comprehension and against the localization of these mechanisms to other areas. I further discuss the continued relevance of Wernicke’s insights for 21st century neurobiology of language, and how these insights can be updated with increased linguistic sophistication.

About the Speaker

Dr William Matchin

Assistant Professor at Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina

More about Dr William Matchin