We often hear the phrase “I said it without thinking!” but in fact, the act of speaking is an incredibly complex process involving many regions of the brain. Scientists are using a technique called functional MRI scanning – which 'lights up' bits of the brain when they're active – to understand more about how all these parts work together to produce language. These images are simplified representations of the connections between particular parts of the brain, each highlighted in a different colour, revealed by scanning volunteers as they carry out a range of tasks: resting (middle), speaking single syllables or whole sentences (top right and bottom right, respectively), or doing non-speech tasks – finger-tapping (top left) or listening to musical notes (bottom left). The results show that while the simpler tasks use three main regions within the brain, the act of speaking needs six different parts to work together.
Written by Kat Arney
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.