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ANATOMY

A basic understanding of the structure and form of the essential body parts that allow humans to communicate by language through the transmission system of speech is enlightening. It helps us appreciate the relationship between the physical structure of the various parts (organs and cells) and the function they perform.

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Anatomy of the Language System

Lateralization Perhaps the best-known generalization about the anatomy of the language system is that it is represented on one side of the brain – usually the left – more than the other. Many lines of evidence support this view. Specific impairments to linguistic abilities are known as…

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Brain

The brain is divided into three parts: cerebrum, cerebellum and brain stem. The cerebrum is responsible for reasoning, emotion, memory, motor movements, and speech and language skills. The cerebellum co-ordinates motor movements and the brain stem controls automatic functions such as breathing.

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Brain Facts

Brain areas and brain functions – a few brain facts ‘A baby is born with over 100 billion brain cells. At birth only 25% of the brain is developed. By age three 90% of the brain is developed.’ (Catherwood, 2000) The diagram of the brain (below) reveals some…

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Breathing Mechanism

Humans breathe by flattening and contracting the diagram for inhalation and relaxing the diaphragm for exhalation. Intercostal muscles assist breathing.

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Disentangling Sounds

The auditory system has evolved to be good at disentangling sounds, using complementary intensity and wave position cues to locate high pitch and low pitch sounds.

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Ear

The human hearing mechanism – the ear – consists of three parts: outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The outer ear directs sound waves into the middle ear. The ossicles of the middle ear amplify the vibration of the sound waves. The inner ear converts vibrations into electrical signals which are transmitted along the auditory nerve to the auditory cortex of the brain.

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Larynx

The larynx is constructed of three main cartilages: thyroid cartilage, cricoid cartilage, and arytenoid cartilages. The true vocal cords (vocal folds) can be abducted, allowing air to flow freely through the glottis. They can be adducted during phonation to create voiced speech sounds. The false vocal cords do not usually play a part in phonation.

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