The Relationship Between Language and the Brain

Carolyn Tinglin_Registered Nurse Carolyn Tinglin is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Science. Her passion is healthy aging. Throughout her career, she has published numerous articles on health, wellness, aging and recently presented at the International Council on Active Aging conference. Carolyn also works as an assistant professor at the University of the Fraser Valley.

Scientists might argue that, in addition to the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe plays a significant role in our ability to function on a daily basis because this area of the brain plays an important role in helping us understand and produce speech.

In fact, the two areas most responsible for controlling our ability to process information into speech are the Broca’s area of the brain located in the left frontal lobe and the Wernicke’s area found in the back part of the temporal lobe. Damage to the Broca’s area results in problems producing sound and speech, inability to form words, slowed or slurred speech, and difficulty writing words. Damage to the Wernicke’s area (in the temporal lobe) results in loss of ability to understand language. Even though an individual who experiences damage to this area of the brain can speak clearly, the formation of coherent sentences is lacking, the words are mixed up and have no real meaning.

Activating the Broca and Wernicke’s areas of the brain can help to further support your overall brain health.

Conversing With Friends

Some fun activities to try:

Words & Definitions – Write down a list of definitions. Exchange your list with a friend. Once you’ve figured out the word being defined, say it and its definition out loud.

Scripted Conversations – Believe it or not, practicing scripted conversations improves articulation of words, speaking rate, and reading accuracy (all important to speech production). Scripted conversations are often used in stroke recovery but can also be used as a way to exercise the speech centre of your brain. You can create a conversation about anything. Simply write down 5-6 sentences (each sentence should have its own line), read the script out loud and even share it with a friend. Practice reading the script for 5-10 mins per day, 4-5 days per week.

Melodic Intonation – Sing your words! With a partner, write down 2 or 3 sentences each. The first sentence should be no more than 2-3 words in length. The next sentence should be a bit longer and your third sentence will be the longest of the three. You and your partner can take turns singing your sentences. For example, partner #1 might sing: “Are you ok?” and partner #2 might reply: “It was great, and you?” (singing each word). Melodic intonation stimulates the speech areas of the left hemisphere of the brain.

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