The intense effort to characterize Broca's region has produced many views on its anatomy and function. Here, we present the leading approaches and consider ways to adjudicate among them empirically. Anatomically, we focus on the cytoarchitecture of Brodmann areas 44 and 45, which constitute Broca's region. Functionally, we discuss four views: action perception, working memory, syntactic complexity and syntactic movement. We compare these views, reflect on how they can be distinguished experimentally and review relevant aphasia and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. Although no single hypothesis accounts for all of the data, the role of Broca's region in language comprehension is best explained by the syntactic movement account. This conclusion opens the door for an attempt to define general principles for the neural representation of linguistic knowledge.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful to the following agencies for their continued support: Canada – SSHRC, CRC, NSERC; USA – NIH grant #DC000494; Germany – a Senior Researcher Award from the Humboldt Foundation. We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers and Katrin Amunts for their helpful comments.