Expressive versus Receptive language systems

Discuss the difference between expressive and receptive language systems, focusing on neuroanatomical substrates. What types of language impairments would be seen with damage to the different brain areas? How is acquired damage to those areas functionally different from developmental language delays? When responding to your peers, think about the ways humans rely on language, and address additional ways language disruption can affect daily functioning.

The difference between expressive and receptive language systems is that People with damage to the Broca’s area of the brain have difficulty enunciating words correctly and speak in a slow, labored way. When there is damage to a specific area on the side of the left frontal lobe, which is linked to speech is considered expressive aphasia disorder (Carlson & Birkett, 2017).

People with damage to the Wernicke’s are unable to comprehend words; they can hear words, but they do not know there meaning, this damage to the temporal lobe in the left hemisphere is linked to a language disorder called receptive aphasia (Carlson & Birkett, 2017).

Analyzing defects, Wernicke developed a model to explain how the brain functions in producing and understanding language (Geschwind, 1979).

According to this model, Broca’s area stores articulatory codes, which specify the sequence of muscle actions required to pronounce a word. When these codes are transmitted to the motor area, they activate the muscles of the lips, tongue, and larynx in the proper sequence and produce a spoken word. Wernicke’s area, by contrast, is where auditory codes and the meanings of words are stored. For a word to be spoken, its auditory code must be activated in Wernicke’s area and transmitted to Broca’s area, where it activates the corresponding articulator code (Geschwind, 1979).


Carlson, N. R., & Birkett, M. A. (2017). Physiology of behavior. Boston: Pearson

Geschwind, N. (1979) Specialization of the human brain. Scientific American, 241, 180-199.

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