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Although the classical core regions of the language system (Broca's and Wernicke's areas) were defined over a century ago, it took the advent of functional imaging to sharpen our understanding of how these regions and adjacent parts of the brain are associated with particular aspects of language. One limitation of such studies has been the need to compare results across different subject groups, each performing a different type of language task. Thus, this study was designed to examine overlapping versus segregated brain activations associated with three fundamental language tasks, orthography, phonology and semantics performed by the same subjects during a single experimental session. The results demonstrate a set of primarily left-sided core language regions in ventrolateral frontal, supplementary motor, posterior mid-temporal, occipito-temporal and inferior parietal areas, which were activated for all language tasks. Segregated task-specific activations were demonstrated within the ventrolateral frontal, mid-temporal and inferior parietal areas. Within the inferior frontal cortex (Broca's regional complex), segregated activations were seen for the semantic and phonological tasks. These findings demonstrate both common and task specific activations within the language system.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





975 - 985


Adult, Brain, Brain Mapping, Female, Humans, Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted, Imagination, Language, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Nerve Net, Psycholinguistics, Psychomotor Performance, Semantics, Speech Perception