Thursday, June 15, 2006

fMRI finds other functions of Broca's area of brain

Functional magnetic resonance imaging ( fMRI) has reportedly yielded another insight into how the human brain functions. fMRI is a non-invasive imaging technique that exploits a particular modern instrument's ability to sense the magnetic properties of water in order to detect changes in the rate that tissue is using oxygen. How rapidly a tissue uses oxygen is a good indicator of how much work it is doing. So, when using fMRI to study a human doing mental tasks, a scientist can tell which areas of the brain are active (functioning).

Using the fMRI technique in a controlled study, French researchers at Université Pierre et Marie Curie and Ecole Normale Supérieure have reportedly discovered that Broca's area (located near the left temple), along with its companion area on the right side, is involved in more than just organizing speech - it also organizes (plans) many other things. This planning ability is one of the major things that distinguishes human intelligence from that of other species.

For more on the study, click here.

(Hat tip: Digg)


Allison said...

I've read a lot about Broca's area, and I am definitely not an expert, but if Broca's area has other functions, why are those functions not affected by Broca's Aphasia, which doesn't allow the person to form complex sentences? It would seem to me that the other functions would diminish at least slightly because of it. I do, understand that you probably don't know much more than me and what I can find on the internet about this subject; it was just what I thought about.

Keith said...

Hi Allison,
that is an interesting question, but, as you suspected, beyond my area of expertise. I will pass your question on to a close colleague who is more knowledgeable about this subject than I am and get back to you if something comes of it.
Thanks for the question!
Best Regards,