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Wernicke’s Area and Speech Production Essay

Wernicke’s Area

Wernicke’s area is the region of the brain where spoken language is understood. Neurologist Carl Wernicke is credited with discovering the function of this brain region. The Wernicke’s area is located on the temporal lobe on the left side of the brain and is responsible for the comprehension of speech (Broca’s area is related to the production of speech). Language development or usage can be seriously impaired by damage to this area of the brain.

Functions of Wernicke’s Area includes:
● Language Comprehension
● Semantic Processing
● Language Recognition
● Language Interpretation
Speech Production

Speech production is the process by which spoken words are selected to be produced, have their phonetics formulated and then finally are articulated by the motor system in the vocal apparatus. The production of spoken language involves three major levels of processing. The first is the processes of conceptualization in which the intention to create speech links a desired concept to a particular spoken word to be expressed. Here the preverbal intended messages are formulated that specify the concepts to be verbally expressed. This is a competitive process in which an appropriate word is selected among a cohort of candidates.

The second stage is formulation in which the linguistic form required for that word’s expression is created. This process involves such processes as the generation of a syntactic frame, and phonological encoding which specifies the phonetic form of the intended utterance. At this stage a lemma is picked that is the abstract form of a word that lacks any information about the sounds in it (and thus before the word can be pronounced). It contains information concerning only meaning and the relation of this word to others in the sentence.

The third stage is articulation which involves the retrieval of the particular motor phonetics of a word and the motor coordination of appropriate phonation and articulation by the lungs, glottis, larynx, tongue, lips, jaw, and other parts of the vocal apparatus.

2.2 Wernicke’s Aphasia

The brain also can be impaired. Suharno (1982) identified one of the brain disorder that causes language disorders, namely CVA (Cerebral Vascular Accident) which means ‘to damage blood vessels in the brain’, is an example of local brain damage, and damage spread that attacks the brain. One of the brain disorders is Wernicke’s aphasia.

Aphasia is partial or total loss of the ability to articulate ideas or comprehend spoken or written language, resulting from damage to the brain caused by injury or disease. Wernicke’s aphasia is a language disorder that impacts language comprehension and the production of meaningful language. The disorder is related to damage to the Wernicke’s area. Individuals with Wernicke’s aphasia have difficulties understanding spoken language but are able to produce sounds, phrases, and word sequences. While these utterances have the same rhythm as normal speech, they are not language because no information is conveyed.

2.3 Case Example

According to YouTube that uploaded by squirtofmylife on Feb 20, 2012 which titled “Wernicke’s aphasia Interview with Amelia Carter. She had stroke and know she has aphasia. In this video shown that Amelia is difficult to understanding what the speaker say to her. First, when the questioner (while showing bottle, bell, ball,  hunger, and notebook) asked her “Amelia what is this?” she always gives answers that doesn’t match with what questioner shown. Second, the questioner said that she has to repeat what the questioner said, but she answers with different word. And the last test the questioner said “Amelia finished this song ‘Marry had a little lamb’” then she continues the song “little lamb little lamb Marry had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow”. When she wants to answer the question she needs more times to understand the speech.

Based on the analysis about speech production and the case about Amelia Carter, it passes the several process to do something that we can see from the model below. So, the process of speech is succeed. But, when the brain has a damage, especially in the part of producing language – in the Wernicke’s area on the temporal lobe on the left side of the brain – because it is responsible for the comprehension of speech, the process of speech production can be hampered.

As the result, what is taken out can not match, what we thinking about is not appropriate with what we say. The example is the case of Amelia Carter, she had stroke and it strikes the part of producing language in her brain. She loss the abillity to understand language. She can speak clearly, but the words that are put together make no sense. This way of speaking has been called “word salad” because it appears that the words are all mixed up like the vegetables in a salad.

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