Broca's area

F. Frank LeFever flefever at ix.netcom.com
Tue Jun 23 22:36:32 EST 1998

Cijadrachon's self observations tend to illustrate the "parallel"
processing nature of linguistic functioning--for example, normally
concurrent but sometimes disssociated visual and auditory "knowledge"
of the same word.

Particularly in English, with its bizarre (but historically lawful)
spelling/phonography, the ability too "see" that the word is wrong is
especially important (without this ability, perhaps requiring
right-hemisphere skills, one makes a certain kind of spelling
error--phonetically reaonable, but wrong).

In the examples he gives, the dissociation between auditory and visual
word knowledge is an artifact of the two being somewhat separated in
his learning of English.  What is very striking, however, is the sort
of dissociation of previously "whole" language functions, e.g. in brain
injury  (usually stroke) affecting one or the other language area in
the brain.

For example, one of my patients, with "deep dyslexia" (this is the
traditioonal term, although logically I think it should be called
"surface" dyslexia...): among other things, he was quite capable of
trying to read aloud the word "student" and saying "pupil" (actual
excample).  He did NOT think he was offering a synonym nor was he
consciously substituting a more easily pronounced word; he really did
think he had read and pronounced the word correctly.

In general, the more easily one could visualize the meaning of a word
(i.e. imagining a red, round fruit when reading "apple") the more
likely he was to read it correctly.  Words that cannot be visualized,
such as "to", "by", "from" etc. could not be read at all--or
substitutions were given, with no phonetic or semantic relationship
(e.g. "too" might be read as "by", "froom" read as "at", etc., etc.).

In other words, of the two parallel paths from the visual input, the
one leading to phonology was defective, but the one leading to visual
association and meaning was OK and led indirectly to phonology.

(There is much more.  I presented a paper based on work with him at the
International Neuropsychological Society in Antwerp, June or July

In <358eff13.17439456 at news.zedat.fu-berlin.de>
cijadra at zedat.fu-berlin.de (Cijadrachon) writes: 
>> It's killing me that I can't recall the name of the
>>resercher ...
>Just go on thinking about it...
>>Another consideeration re "different areas": there is also the idea
>>that the right hemisphere may be more involved at the level of
>>learning of a new language, mimicry, etc., but eventual consolidation
>>in the left hemisphere when well-learned and routine.
>Only time I saw the language structurer for me it was like a dark
>island left front, but nothing I recall right front, though I do not
>exclude that there is something.
>And speaking coming in is different.
>Same for reading.
>Therea are a lot of English words that I learned by reading and for
>years knew them, but did not know what way they are pronounced, and
>then, f.e. when I was in England for some weeks and someone would say
>something, it sometimes was like wondering what that meant, and then
>realizing that it must be the way a certain words was pronounced - and
>sometimes I had guessed quite wrongly how they might be pronounced,
>and then it took me quite a bit to "fit" the word.
>There are words that I can learn by hearing, and words that I can
>learn by reading, and maybe they are not in my speaking vocabulary,
>but I understand them when I hear them.
>Might sound odd, but if I tell some other mammals stuff, there are
>some who are able to store quite a bit of my terms, too, 
>same as with a lot of sounds of cats and from some others know what
>these sound-"words" mean, without being able to do them myself.
>Also I know a boy who is one year, and he is understanding quite a
>You can ask him: "Where is the duck?" Or: "Where is the ball?" And he
>will point at quite some you name.
>Though he cannot speak those words yet.
>...I do not know what my "passive vocabulary" (understanding, f.e.
>when written) in English is, but if I should take a guess it outrange
>my "active vocabulary" (tending to use when speaking) by thousands of
>In German maybe even more, as there is the "old German" (don't know in
>English...: Konjunktiv, alte Dativvorm mit "e" am Ende, ...holdes
>Antlitz... / Frank ... und wohlgemut hob er an zu sprechen: Garstig
>Unhold, heb' er sich von hinnen...")
>So by feeling I'd say that undrstanding and speaking is not necesarily
>the same.
>And when writing English it has happened to me frequently that I read
>the sentence  and it simply looks wrong.
>Like a pattern identification proclaiming to me that that is a weird
>And with the help of that " pattern recognition" I sometimes manage to
>get the right or at least a better version.
>(though often I also have the distinct feeling that my English is
>wrong in many places but do not know what is wrong.) 
>That with the thalamus sounded interesting.
>What does it do apart from motoric stuff?
>Different topics:
>- .Noticed that if I keep jumping between English and German every few
>sentences my grammar seems to deteriorate in both.
>- Once on LSD I started altering my (all horribly German sounding)
>versions of English, discovering to my surprise that they sounded at
>least a bit closer to how they should be according to memory or real
>English, and that I could tune to different English speaking places
>versions of English pronounciation and sentence melodies faster than
> ...Though still far from the original...
>I regret that here they wait till the end of childhood before teaching
>other languages.
>- There were two girls who had both been to Germany for two years and
>then returned to the USA..
>The older (learning time 6-7) had nearly a perfect German grammar, but
>a powerful American accent.
>The younger (4-5) made far more grammar mistakes, but she sounded
>For me there is something very fascinating to that,
>especially as if I am not mistaken the parents said that in Germany
>both children were a lot together.
>Though not concerning language  I do recall the age of 6 as a distinct
>"transit age" and know from baby-sitting that it is in other children,
>There are vast changes in that age inside, before and afterwards
>children tend to be different in many aspects...

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