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Neuroanatomical prerequisites for language functions in the maturing brain

MPS-Authors
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Brauer,  Jens
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Anwander,  Alfred
Methods and Development Unit Cortical Networks and Cognitive Functions, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Friederici,  Angela D.
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Brauer, J., Anwander, A., & Friederici, A. D. (2011). Neuroanatomical prerequisites for language functions in the maturing brain. Cerebral Cortex, 21(2), 459-466. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhq108.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-28B4-D
Abstract
The 2 major language-relevant cortical regions in the human brain, Broca's area and Wernicke's area, are connected via the fibers of the arcuate fasciculus/superior longitudinal fasciculus (AF/SLF). Here, we compared this pathway in adults and children and its relation to language processing during development. Comparison of fiber properties demonstrated lower anisotropy in children's AF/SLF, arguing for an immature status of this particular pathway with conceivably a lower degree of myelination. Combined diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data indicated that in adults the termination of the AF/SLF fiber projection is compatible with functional activation in Broca's area, that is pars opercularis. In children, activation in Broca's area extended from the pars opercularis into the pars triangularis revealing an alternative connection to the temporal lobe (Wernicke's area) via the ventrally projecting extreme capsule fiber system. fMRI and DTI data converge to indicate that adults make use of a more confined language network than children based on ongoing maturation of the structural network. Our data suggest relations between language development and brain maturation and, moreover, indicate the brain's plasticity to adjust its function to available structural prerequisites.