Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Broca's aphasia, Broca's area, and syntax: A complex relationship

Stefano F. Cappa a1, Andrea Moro a2, Daniela Perani a2 and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini a2
a1 Neuropsychology Lab, University of Brescia Medical School, 25125 Brescia, Italy [email protected]
a2 Facolta' di Psicologia, Universita'; San Raffaele, Milano 20132, Italy" and Cognitive Science Program, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0025 [email protected]


Three types of problems are raised in this commentary: On the linguistic side, we emphasize the importance of an appropriate definition of the different domains of linguistics. This is needed to define the domains (lexicon-syntax-semantics) to which transformational relations apply. We then question the concept of Broca's aphasia as a “functional” syndrome, associated with a specific lesion. Finally, we discuss evidence from functional brain imaging. The breadth and potential impact of such evidence has grown considerably in the last few years, expanding our knowledge of the multiple contributions of the “Broca's region” to phonological, lexical-semantic, and syntactic processing. “Lumping” under diagnostic labels, such as Broca's aphasia, should be replaced by more detailed linguistic and neurological descriptions of the clinical cases.