, Volume 213, Issue 6, pp 511-523,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 18 Jul 2009

Structural MRI studies of language function in the undamaged brain

Abstract

In recent years, the demonstration that structural changes can occur in the human brain beyond those associated with development, ageing and neuropathology has revealed a new approach to studying the neural basis of behaviour. In this review paper, we focus on structural imaging studies of language that have utilised behavioural measures in order to investigate the neural correlates of language skills in the undamaged brain. We report studies that have used two different techniques: voxel-based morphometry of whole brain grey or white matter images and diffusion tensor imaging. At present, there are relatively few structural imaging studies of language. We group them into those that investigated (1) the perception of novel speech sounds, (2) the links between speech sounds and their meaning, (3) speech production, and (4) reading. We highlight the validity of the findings by comparing the results to those from functional imaging studies. Finally, we conclude by summarising the novel contribution of these studies to date and potential directions for future research.