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Scientists: Speech comes from both sides of the brain, not one

Speech takes both sides of the brain, researchers find 00:55

Scientists are claiming they’ve made a significant discovery about the brain and how it processes speech. They say speech comes from both sides of the brain -- not one side, as previously thought.

They believe their findings could change how doctors treat speech disorders or other speaking difficulties caused by brain damage.

"Our findings upend what has been universally accepted in the scientific community—that we use only one side of our brains for speech," Dr. Bijan Pesaran, an associate professor in NYU's Center for Neural Science and the study's senior author.

The study, published Jan. 15 in Nature, involved 16 patients with epilepsy who had their brain activity measured while undergoing separate disease treatment.

Typically, speech and language were thought to be lateralized in the brain, meaning one side controlled listening and speaking, and the other side controlled for the constructing and understanding of sentences.

“We asked the patients to listen and speak to different cues, different words, and then we monitored their brain activity and we found it was present on both sides of their brain in equal ways,” Pesaran told CBS News’ Vinita Nair. “It really made no difference what side of the brain we looked at. It was equally strong.”

Pesaran next hopes the findings might change rehabilitation for patients who suffer strokes or injuries resulting in brain damage. 

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