Language and the brain

Date: 2018-03-05

Time: 10:00 - 12:00

Address: Lilla Frescativägen 4A Stockholm

Venue: Beijer Hall, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Language is a defining feature of the human brain, but its underlying processes are debated. This event focuses on the legacy of pioneering 19th century neurologists Carl Wernicke and Paul Broca, and how modern brain research helps us understand the human capacity for language. The event features the third installment of the Stockholm Brain Lecture series with Marsel Mesulam, Ruth Dunbar Davee Professor of Neurology and Director of the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimers Research Center at Northwestern University. The event is sponsored by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science class for humanities and for outstanding services to science, and the Board of Human Sciences, Stockholm University.

10.00 Welcome address
Jonas Olofsson, Associate Professor of Psychology at Stockholm University

10.10 Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas subserving processing of language structure: Evidence from fMRI
Julia Uddén, researcher at Stockholm University Departments of Linguistics and Psychology, and Pro Futura Scientia fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study

10.45 Coffee break

11.00 Stockholm Brain Lecture: Anatomy of Word Comprehension in Wernickes Area and Beyond
Marsel Mesulam, Ruth Dunbar Davee Professor of Neurology at Northwestern University

Despite 150 years of fruitful research, the anatomy of language in the human brain is still in flux.  Many insights have come from the investigation of neurological patients with focal lesions. For example, cerebrovascular accidents in the left temporoparietal cortex of the left hemisphere have been known to cause Wernicke’s aphasia, a syndrome characterized by severe word and sentence comprehension impairments. However, recent analyses of regional atrophy sites in patients with a neurodegenerative syndrome known as Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) show that traditional neurological models of language need to be revised. In particular, the left anterior temporal lobe, a region ignored by classic aphasiology, needs to be inserted into the language network with a critical role in word comprehension and object naming.

The symposium is free of charge and open to the public but registration is required for all participants.