Other Known Aliases – expressive aphasia
Definition – partial or full inability to produce language/communication in any form, with full preservation of language/communication comprehension
Clinical Significance – this condition manifests due to damage to Broca’s area of the brain. This region is bounded by the pars opercularis and pars triangularis of the inferior frontal gyrus of the dominant hemisphere.
History – Named after Pierre Paul Broca (1824-1880), who was a French physician and anatomist who received his medical doctorate from the University of Paris in 1844 at the age of 20. He went on to study under and assist Peirre Gerdy before becoming the youngest prosector for his alma mater in 1848. He went on to practice in various surgical and pathologic specialties culminating as Chair of Clinical Surgery in 1868 at the University of Paris. In 1861, in an effort to support the cerebral localization theory for speech, he dissected the brain of a patient with a 21-year progressive loss speech, after succumbing to a gangrenous infection of his paretic limb, where he found a frontal lobe lesion. He would go on to find similar localized lesions on 13 additional patients with expressive aphasia and called this region the “circonvolution du language”. He would later be given the posthumous eponym by David Ferrier who termed this area “Broca’s convolution”.
Other notable accomplishments include describing muscular dystrophy before Duchenne, rickets as a nutritional disease before Virchow, and the venous spread of cancer before von Rokitansky.
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- Broca, P.P. (1861) Loss of Speech, Chronic Softening, and Partial Destruction of the Anterior Left Lobe of the Brain. Bulletin de la Société Anthropologique, 2, 235-238.