How the Brain Processes Language

How the Brain Processes Language

Scientists are always finding something new about the brain that answers more questions and creates new ones. From month old babies and beyond, the brain learns how to process movement, emotions, and language. Yes, a month old baby can’t read, speak, or write. Yet, their brain learns to process language, and slowly but surely, they learn the difference between noise and speech. When it comes time to learn to read, the brain is already wired to look at a word and understand what it means. Grammar plays a considerable role in this process. It enables humans to express an action with one or more words.

So exactly how does the brain process language? A brief anatomy lesson is in order to help further explain how the brain functions. In the left hemisphere of the brain are two main regions responsible for language and speech: the Broca area and the Wernicke area, both named after the men that discovered the function of these parts of the brain. These scientists figured out how the brain functions years ago without the help of monitors and technology. Nowadays, EEGs and other brain wave tests aid scientists in finding out a bit more about how the brain operates. Allie from Neuro Transmissions explains more.


The Broca area is in the frontal lobe of the brain and is responsible for language processing. The region of the brain is named after French physician Pierre Paul Broca who in the 1800s studied brain function. He provided the first anatomical proof of what part of the brain was responsible for what. Through extensive research, neuroscientist say that the Broca area is able to understand language through memories, meanings, and emotions. It is a complex process! Interestingly enough, the Broca area sees an increase in activity when a person anticipates a grammatical error.


Not too far from where the Broca area of the brain is the Wernicke area. Two scientists studied the Wernicke area of the brain, Carl Wernicke and Norman Geschwind. During the 19th century, Wernicke concluded that this area of the brain is where the meaning of language is decoded. Later, in the 1960s, Norman Geschwind expanded on this idea and found that this is the area of the brain where perception, comprehensions, and other characteristics of language are decrypted.

Motor Cortex

The motor cortex is the neuro network that connects the left and the right half of the brain. Without the motor cortex, a person would have a tough time associating words to speech. The right side of the brain is where a human’s visual and spacial centers are. When a person sees a word on a piece of paper (preferably your favorite paperback book!), it then travels through this neural network where the two language centers decode it. Researchers now believe that if a person is having trouble with language and speech, the motor cortex could be to blame. 

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