The capacity for language is distinctly human. It allows us to communicate, learn things, create culture, and think better. Because of its complexity, scientists have long struggled to understand the neurobiology of language.
In the classical view, there are two major language areas in the left half of our brain. Broca’s area (in the frontal lobe) is responsible for the production of language (speaking and writing), while Wernicke’s area (in the temporal lobe) supports the comprehension of language (listening and reading). A large fibre tract (the arcuate fasciculus) connects these two ‘perisylvian’ areas (around the Sylvian fissure, the split which divides the two lobes). Peter Hagoort, professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Radboud University and director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics says the classical view is largely wrong.
Hagoort argues for a multiple brain-network view of language, in which some operations might well be shared with other cognitive domains, such as music and arithmetic. Language being the multi-layered system that it is, no wonder that the language-ready brain is so enormously complex.
Music and language share an overlapping, multi-layered neural network!