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Are language skills related to structural features in Broca's and Wernicke's area?


Jäncke, Lutz; Liem, Franziskus; Mérillat, Susan (2021). Are language skills related to structural features in Broca's and Wernicke's area? European Journal of Neuroscience, 53(4):1124-1135.

Abstract

This study used structural magnetic resonance imaging to examine whether specific anatomical features of Broca's and Wernicke's areas are related to language functions in typically developing older subjects with no specific language expertise. Data from 231 subjects from the Zurich LHAB-study are used for this study. For these subjects, we obtained several psychometric measures from which we calculated performance measures reflecting specific psychological functions (language comprehension, verbal fluency, perceptual speed, visual memory, recognition of regularities, and logical thinking). From the MRI measurements, we calculated the cortical thickness and cortical surface of Broca's and Wernicke's areas. Applying multiple regression analyses, we identified a moderately strong relationship between language comprehension and the brain metrics from Broca's and Wernicke's areas and showed that approximately 10% of the variance in language comprehension performance is explained by the linear combination of all perisylvian brain metrics. The other psychological functions (verbal fluency, perceptual speed, visual memory, recognition of regularities, and logical thinking) are not related to these brain metrics. Subsequent detailed analyses revealed that the cortical thickness of Wernicke's area, in particular, contributed most to this structure-function relationship. The better performance in the language comprehension tests was related to a thicker cortex in Wernicke's area. Thus, this study demonstrates a structure-function relationship between the anatomical features of the perisylvian language areas and language comprehension, suggesting that particular anatomical features are associated with better language performance.

Abstract

This study used structural magnetic resonance imaging to examine whether specific anatomical features of Broca's and Wernicke's areas are related to language functions in typically developing older subjects with no specific language expertise. Data from 231 subjects from the Zurich LHAB-study are used for this study. For these subjects, we obtained several psychometric measures from which we calculated performance measures reflecting specific psychological functions (language comprehension, verbal fluency, perceptual speed, visual memory, recognition of regularities, and logical thinking). From the MRI measurements, we calculated the cortical thickness and cortical surface of Broca's and Wernicke's areas. Applying multiple regression analyses, we identified a moderately strong relationship between language comprehension and the brain metrics from Broca's and Wernicke's areas and showed that approximately 10% of the variance in language comprehension performance is explained by the linear combination of all perisylvian brain metrics. The other psychological functions (verbal fluency, perceptual speed, visual memory, recognition of regularities, and logical thinking) are not related to these brain metrics. Subsequent detailed analyses revealed that the cortical thickness of Wernicke's area, in particular, contributed most to this structure-function relationship. The better performance in the language comprehension tests was related to a thicker cortex in Wernicke's area. Thus, this study demonstrates a structure-function relationship between the anatomical features of the perisylvian language areas and language comprehension, suggesting that particular anatomical features are associated with better language performance.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:1 February 2021
Deposited On:08 Dec 2020 12:30
Last Modified:22 Feb 2021 02:07
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0953-816X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.15038
PubMed ID:33179366

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