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Seeking Speech
30 September 2015

Seeking Speech

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

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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