In the ventrolateral frontal lobe of the human brain there is a distinct entity, cytoarchitectonic area 44 (Broca's area), which is crucial in speech production1,2,3,4. There has been controversy5,6 over whether monkeys possess an area comparable to human area 44. We have addressed this question in the macaque monkey by combining quantitative architectonic analysis of the cortical areas within the ventrolateral frontal region with electrophysiological recording of neuron activity and electrical intracortical microstimulation. Here we show that, immediately in front of the ventral part of the agranular premotor cortical area 6, there is a distinct cortical area that is architectonically comparable to human area 44 and that this monkey area 44 is involved with the orofacial musculature. We suggest that area 44 might have evolved originally as an area exercising high-level control over orofacial actions, including those related to communicative acts, and that, in the human brain, area 44 eventually also came to control certain aspects of the speech act.
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We thank M. Bouchard for technical assistance. This work was supported by grants from Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.
Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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