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Cognition. 2004 May-Jun;92(1-2):1-12.

Towards a new functional anatomy of language.

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Department of Linguistics, University of Maryland College Park, 1401 Marie Mount Hall, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


The classical brain-language model derived from the work of Broca, Wernicke, Lichtheim, Geschwind, and others has been useful as a heuristic model that stimulates research and as a clinical model that guides diagnosis. However, it is now uncontroversial that the classical model is (i) empirically wrong in that it cannot account for the range of aphasic syndromes, (ii) linguistically underspecified to an extent that prohibits contact with the language sciences, and (iii) anatomically underspecified. We briefly summarize some of the central issues that motivate why a new functional anatomy of language is necessary, in the context of introducing a collection of articles that describe systematic new attempts at specifying the new functional anatomy. The major convergent observations are highlighted and the emergent conceptual and empirical trends are identified.

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