In 1861, French physician Paul Broca was introduced to a man named Louis-Victor Leborgne. While his comprehension and mental functioning remained relatively normal, Leborgne progressively lost the ability to produce meaningful speech over a period of 20 years. Like Hodor, the man was nicknamed Tan because he only spoke a single word: “Tan.”
Just a few days after meeting Broca, Leborgne passed away. Broca’s autopsy determined tissue damage, or a “lesion,” in the frontal lobe of Leborgne’s left brain hemisphere, just next to a brain fold called the lateral sulcus. Over the next two years, Broca acquired brains from 12 more patients with Leborgne’s symptoms—all of the autopsy evidence was strikingly consistent.
Neuroscientists are still examining this small region of the brain, now often referred to as “Broca’s area” to work out its many functions. While most research has focused on a patient’s inability to form syntactically complex sentences when this area is damaged, more recent work using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has also reported that Broca’s area is active during language comprehension