Redefining Wernicke's area: Receptive language and discourse semantics

Dennis C. Tanner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This report calls for a more exacting definition of Wernicke's area in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders to reflect an accurate view of brain functioning with regard to decoding discourse semantics. Conventional definitions are provided to delineate the general usages of important terms used by many professional dictionaries and glossaries when defining Wernicke's area, receptive aphasia, understanding, and comprehension. Five levels of semantic decoding are described. A stanza from Tennyson's In Memoriam is used to show the dynamics of discourse semantic decoding and to logically establish that "language understanding" can virtually engage the brain as a whole and the totality of a person's mind. A more accurate definition is provided, indicating that Wernicke's area is not the center for oral language understanding, only an important conduit to language comprehension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-66
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Allied Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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