Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD

Broca's area is a region of the brain that plays a critical role in speech production and language comprehension. While its exact role in speech is not fully understood, it is believed to interact with sensory information and relay signals to the motor cortex in order to coordinate the movements necessary for producing spoken words.

This region of the brain was named after the eminent French physician Paul Broca who first discovered its significance in the mid-19th century. Broca was interested in brain lateralization, which suggested that certain functions were associated with specific brain regions. Broca observed that people with damage to this area of the brain experienced deficits in speech production.

The condition associated with damage to Broca's area is known as Broca's aphasia, characterized by problems producing fluent, spontaneous speech.

Where Is Broca’s Area Located?

Broca's area is found in the brain's inferior frontal gyrus, which makes up part of the frontal lobe. In most people, Broca's area is in the brain's left cerebral hemisphere. However, the exact position of Broca’s area is debated among neurologists.

Functions of Broca’s Area

While researchers know that Broca's area plays a role in language production, its precise role is not yet fully understood. It may play a part in various functions, including syntax, grammar, verbal working memory, or the muscle movements needed for speech. 

One study found that Broca's area is responsible for mediating a complex series of events, from interacting with sensory information to developing a plan for speaking and then transmitting this information to the motor cortex to control the mouth's movements during speech.

Speech Production

Broca's area is essential in speech production. This area of the brain acts as a command center, orchestrating the complex muscle movements necessary for articulating spoken words. To form words and sentences, Broca's area must relay signals to coordinate the muscles of the lips, tongue, and throat.

Language Comprehension

While traditionally associated with speech production, this region also plays a crucial role in understanding and interpreting language. 

Research has demonstrated that Broca's area is activated during sentence comprehension tasks. It helps people extract meaning from sentences and comprehend the nuances of language. 

While Broca's area is important for language production and comprehension, it is important to remember that the ability to speak and understand language is part of a complex and dynamic network.

Other parts of the brain play a role, and the full function of language and communication also involves language regions of the brain interacting with other brain networks.

One study involved re-examining the preserved brains of Broca's original patients using MRI technology. In addition to the surface lesions that Broca observed, researchers found that the lesions in both patients extended into the medial regions of the brain. These findings suggest that the area currently identified as Broca's area differs from the area that Broca identified as important for speech articulation. It also indicates that other areas of the brain contribute to speech deficits.

Other Cognitive Functions

Researchers suggest that the region known as Broca's area is both structurally and functionally heterogeneous. One distinct subregion is involved in the brain's language network, while the other is part of what is referred to as a multiple-demand network.

Multiple-Demand Network

The multiple-demand network involves frontal and parietal brain regions active during a diverse range of cognitive processes. This means that in addition to its role in speech, Broca's area is also likely involved in aspects of high-level cognition and executive function, such as cognitive control and working memory.

Examples of How Broca’s Area Works

An example of using your Broca's area in everyday life would involve any type of verbal communication, whether a casual conversation with a friend or a formal presentation at work.

This region of the brain helps you plan and organize the words and sentences you want to use to express yourself. It also plays a part in helping you create the appropriate syntax and grammar required to articulate what you mean.

Broca's Area vs. Wernicke's Area

Broca's and Wernicke's areas are associated with language, but they are distinct regions and serve different functions.

Some key differences between the two include:

  • Location: While Broca's area is found in the posterior part of the frontal lobe on the left side of the brain, Wernicke's area is part of the superior temporal gyrus in the left hemisphere.
  • Function: Broca's area is essential in speech production and coordinating the movements needed to speak. However, Wernicke's area is associated with language comprehension and the ability to understand spoken and written words.
  • Dysfunction: Damage in Broca’s area leads to a loss of fluency and causes people to struggle to form words. On the other hand, people with damage to Wernicke's area have trouble producing meaningful speech and struggle to understand others.

Broca's Area

  • Located in the posterior part of the frontal lobe

  • Involved in speech

  • Damage to Broca's Area impairs speech

Wernicke's Area

  • Part of the superior temporal gyrus

  • Involved in understanding speech

  • Damage to Wernicke's Area impairs speech comphrension

What's the Same?

However, it is important to note that the two regions are connected through a pathway known as the arcuate fasciculus. This allows the two areas to communicate to integrate the production and comprehension of language.

What Happens If Broca’s Area Is Damaged?

Damage to Broca’s area is most notably associated with problems with speech. However, this brain region also plays a role in other functions, so other motor and cognitive impairments may occur.

Broca's Aphasia

Damage to this area can result in a condition known as Broca's aphasia, also known as expressive aphasia. This condition is characterized by difficulty generating fluent speech while keeping comprehension abilities relatively intact.


Aphasia is a language disorder that makes it difficult to use language. In the case of Broca's aphasia, this difficulty centers on the ability to produce fluent speech.

While people with Broca's aphasia struggle to produce language, they can usually still comprehend spoken and written language. This can be a source of considerable frustration since they are able to understand what others are saying but struggle to express themselves effectively. 

What Are the Symptoms of Broca's Asphasia?

Common symptoms of Broca’s aphasia include:

  • Non-fluent speech: People with this condition struggle to articulate words and complete sentences. Their speech is often short and fragmented, emerging slowly and with great effort.
  • Reduced vocabulary: Broca's aphasia also creates difficulty accessing words when speaking. People with the condition often rely on a reduced or limited vocabulary of frequently used words.
  • Grammar impairments: Broca's aphasia also makes it more difficult to utilize grammar correctly when speaking. This may lead to grammatically incorrect sentences that omit certain parts of language or incorrect verb tenses.

Broca's aphasia can also differ in severity. Some people experience milder symptoms and may be able to recover some function through speech therapy and other rehabilitation services. Others may have much more severe impairments that lead to lasting difficulties. 

Common causes of damage to Broca's area include strokes, blood clots, brain infections, tumors, and traumatic brain injuries. Short-term Broca's aphasia may also occur due to a type of brain surgery involving resecting (removing) two parts of the brain. In such cases, this side effect typically goes away after about a month following surgery.

How Do I Activate Broca’s Area?

Broca's area is naturally activated by any activity involving the language process, which is strongest during tasks involving speech production.

Strategies that you can use to stimulate Broca's area include:

  • Reading out loud: The next time you read something, whether it is a book or an online article, try reading aloud. It is a great way to activate Broca's area and practice verbal articulation skills.
  • Having conversations: Talking to other people, whether chatting on the phone with a friend or sharing your thoughts with someone in person, is a great way to activate Broca's area. To speak, Broca's area must plan and coordinate the movements necessary to produce speech.
  • Speech exercises: Tongue twisters or other diction exercises can challenge Broca's area while improving your speech coordination and articulation. Regularly engaging in such exercises can help strengthen the neural connections in Broca's brain area.
  • Brain games: Try your hand at language-based games and puzzles that require you to engage in structuring sentences or associating words. 

If you've experienced a brain injury that has affected Broca's area, speech-language therapy can be helpful. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can work with you on targeted activities to address your unique challenges.

Related: 10 Best Brain Games to Keep Your Mind Sharp

How Do I Keep Broca's Area Healthy?

In addition to regularly engaging in activities that activate Broca's area, you can keep this region healthy by supporting your overall brain health. Strategies that work include:

  • Following a healthy lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and regular physical exercise are critical for brain health. Exercise has been linked to better brain health overall, and it can help protect cognitive abilities, including language processing, as you age.
  • Stimulating your mind: Staying mentally active is important for the health of your mind. Look for activities that utilize language skills, such as learning new languages, reading books, and solving word puzzles.
  • Building your language skills: Broca's area is critical to language abilities, so you can help keep those skills sharp by engaging with spoken and written language often. Read books, have conversations, and write in a journal. Staying socially active is also a great way to protect your cognitive abilities and foster stronger language skills.

Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries

It is also essential to protect your brain from damage by wearing a helmet or other protective gear, particularly when engaging in activities with an increased risk of head injury. 

Read Next: What Is Neuroplasticity?

2023-06-05T14:24:31Z dg43tfdfdgfd