Where the brain stores language

The researchers found in the human brain specific areas, is solely responsible for language function.
Those who study the brain activity, are aware of the idea of ​​functional specificity, according to which each part of the brain has a simple function inherent only to him. This idea has been repeatedly confirmed in research: for example, there is a cluster of neurons that controls the movements of the fingers of his left hand, and there is a group of cells that control the movements of the tongue; both are included in a large network, responsible for motility and skeletal muscles of the body. But in this case, things are more complex cognitive functions such as face detection, perform mathematical or linguistic exercises, etc.? Do they have their own special area - or for such purposes, there is a reserve for general use, a set of neurons multiple machines that perform the desired task at the moment? ..

Experiments of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology allow us to say that at least for language functions in the brain, "highlighted" a specialized area, is not involved in anything more.

According to Evelina Fedorenko, one of the participants in the study, previous work in this direction have failed because of the general methodological errors. Functional studies of the brain as the main method used fMRI, which is analyzed with the help of brain activity; In experiments involving a few dozen volunteers, and the resulting data are compared. But because of the large sample of scientists for a long time could not find the zone that are unique to one or another more or less complex cognitive functions. Activity in the performance of language tasks overlapped with activity when performing mathematical tasks, with the areas responsible for the musical memory, and so on. D. All of this, according to the authors of this study was due to individual anatomical features of each test.

In other words, a specific person responsible for each task, maybe different brain areas, but when compared with other subjects these portions overlapped with each other, and the result of some nonspecific pattern of brain activity. It's like to impose on one another photograph of ten people: we end up with is definitely a human face, but it will be a completely different picture.

In their paper, the authors were subjected to every individual a more intensive analysis for activity of various areas of the brain. Within 10-15 minutes of the test carried out language tests, after which he was offered seven other jobs checks musical memory, working memory, arithmetic tests, and other well-known from previous observations of "pollutants" linguistic activity. In an article published in the journal PNAS, researchers write that they have discovered nine areas responsible for language brain activity, four of which lie in the left frontal lobe, including Broca's area, and the following five - in the left hemisphere behind the top four. Eight of the nine specific to language function, they did not respond to any of the following seven "outsiders" tests. These results suggest a fairly high degree of specificity of the brain in relation to language.

Is there a similar specialization and other higher cognitive functions? The authors find it difficult to answer this question. From the fact that there is such specialization for language, it does not follow that the same things, for example, musical memory, or mathematical abilities. In the future, scientists are just about to turn to other brain functions. In addition, they want more clearly detail the language areas, finding out what exactly is responsible for each of the eight special zones.

Prepared according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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