Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Wernicke's Area

Named for Carl Wernicke who first described it in 1874, Werenicke's area appears to be crucial for language comprehension. People who suffer from neurophysiological damage to this area (called Wernicke's aphasia or fluent aphasia) are unable to understand the content words while listening, and unable to produce meaningful sentences; their speech has grammatical structure but no meaning.

Auditory and speech information is transported from the auditory area to Wernicke's area for evaluation of significance of content words, then to Broca's area for analysis of syntax. In speech production, content words are selected by neural systems in Wernicke's area, grammatical refinements are added by neural systems in Broca's area, and then the information is sent to the motor cortex, which sets up the muscle movements for speaking.


  1. Gray, Peter. (1994). Psychology. New York, NY: Worth Publishing.