© 2017

The Broca-Wernicke Doctrine

A Historical and Clinical Perspective on Localization of Language Functions


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Geert-Jan Rutten
    Pages 1-21
  3. Geert-Jan Rutten
    Pages 23-46
  4. Geert-Jan Rutten
    Pages 47-55
  5. Geert-Jan Rutten
    Pages 57-75
  6. Geert-Jan Rutten
    Pages 77-109
  7. Geert-Jan Rutten
    Pages 111-178
  8. Geert-Jan Rutten
    Pages 231-267
  9. Geert-Jan Rutten
    Pages 269-300
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 301-306

About this book


This book discusses theories that link functions to specific anatomical brain regions. The best known of these are the Broca and Wernicke regions, and these have become synonyms for the location of productive and receptive language functions respectively. This Broca-Wernicke model has proved to be such a powerful concept that is remains the predominant view in modern clinical practice. What is fascinating, however, is that there is little evidence for this strictly localist view on language functions. Modern neuroscience and numerous clinical observations in individual patients show that language functions are represented in complex and ever-changing neural networks. It is fair to say that the model is wrong, and that Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas in their classic forms do not exist.

This is a fascinating paradox: why do neurologists and neurosurgeons continue to use these iconic language models in everyday decision-making? In this book, the author uses his background as a neurosurgeon and a neuroscientist to provide some answers to this question.

The book acquaints clinicians and researchers with the many different aspects of language representation in the brain. It provides a historical overview of functional localisation, as well as insights into the misjudgements that have kept the localist doctrine alive. It creates an awareness of the need to integrate clinical observations and neuroscientific theories if we want to progress further in clinical language research and patient care.


Language Localism History Neuroscience Clinical Practice

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgerySt Elisabeth-Tweesteden HospitalTilburgThe Netherlands

About the authors

Geert-Jan Rutten works as a neurosurgeon at the St Elisabeth-Tweesteden Hospital in Tilburg (the Netherlands), where he has a special interest in brain tumour surgery and functional brain mapping. He is also involved in research that focuses on the relationship between brain, cognition and behaviour in neurosurgical patients. 

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Broca-Wernicke Doctrine
  • Book Subtitle A Historical and Clinical Perspective on Localization of Language Functions
  • Authors Geert-Jan Rutten
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing AG 2017
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Medicine Medicine (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-54632-2
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-85440-3
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-54633-9
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVII, 306
  • Number of Illustrations 73 b/w illustrations, 38 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Neurosurgery
    History of Medicine
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
Industry Sectors
Health & Hospitals
Surgery & Anesthesiology


“Geert-Jan Rutten’s book The Broca-Wernicke Doctrine offers an extraordinary journey through language localization, symptomatology, and its history. … After reading this book, the reader will have a broad panorama of language in neuroscience … . A must read for each neurosurgeon interested in the field of aphasia and also in localization of brain function.” (Adrien Thomas May and Karl Schaller, Acta Neurochirurgica, Vol. 160 (2), February, 2018)

“Geert-Jan Rutten seeks to clarify historical and current concepts of how brain regions relate to language and other functions. The result is an entertaining and enlightening tour of the history of cerebral neuroscience. … This book is clearly targeted to neurosurgeons and neuroscientists and includes an appropriate level of scientific detail, yet it is consistently engaging and easy to read with logical organization and excellent summaries.” (Jonathan Miller, Neurosurgery, January, 2018)​