"Previous studies showed that the IFG is active in many different language tasks and suggested that the IFG was involved not only in the integration process but also in control of other brain regions," Bitan said. "Our study corroborates the role of the IFG in modulating other brain regions. In contrast, however, it shows that the integration process is done primarily in the task-specific regions."
In the 19th and early 20th century, scientists with a "localizationist" approach postulated that discrete brain regions were associated with specific functions of language and memory. By the end of the 20th century, a "connectionist" view stressing the importance of interconnected networks became the consensus.
The research presented in the Journal of Neuroscience effectively sets the stage for further development in our understanding of neuroscience. In their article, the Northwestern scientists provide evidence of the ways in which different cognitive goals are achieved from the interaction between different brain regions.
In addition to Bitan, Booth and Mesulam, co-authors of the article are Janet Choy and Douglas Burman of Northwestern's communication sciences and disorders department and Darren Gitelman, associate professor of neuology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.