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Wernicke’s Aphasia vs Broca’s Aphasia: What Is the Difference?

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Wernicke’s and Broca’s lexicon area damages are two distinct types of lexicon disorders. They arise from damage to specific areas of the brain. These conditions affect the production and comprehension of the lexicon. But they manifest in different ways, highlighting the complexity of human communication.

Understanding the difference between Broca’s and Wernicke’s aphasia is crucial. It’s essential for effective diagnosis and therapy. 

In our Wernicke’s aphasia vs Broca’s aphasia guide, we will examine the distinct characteristics. And we will look at the patterns of impairment associated with each condition. This way, clinicians can tailor interventions to address the specific challenges faced by individuals with conditions.

Understanding Aphasia and Its Different Types

It’s a lexicon disorder. It occurs due to damage to specific brain areas, typically the left hemisphere. Understanding the difference between Broca’s and Wernicke’s aphasia is crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment. There are some common types of verbal impairment:

  • Broca’s. It’s also known as an expressive or non-fluent type. Difficulties in verbal communication production characterize it. Individuals with it struggle to form words and construct grammatically correct sentences. But comprehension abilities are relatively preserved.
  • Global. It’s a severe form of the condition. There, individuals have significant impairments in both verbal communication production and lexicon comprehension.
  • Anomic. Difficulties in finding and retrieving words characterize it. It often results in pauses, word-finding difficulties, and using alternative words or descriptions.
  • Wernicke’s. It’s also known as the receptive or fluent type. It primarily affects lexicon comprehension. People with Wernicke’s area damage may speak fluently. But their verbal communication is often nonsensical and lacks meaning. They have difficulty understanding spoken and written communication.
  • Transcortical Motor. It’s a type like Broca’s one but with intact repetition skills.
  • Transcortical Sensory. It’s like Wernicke’s type but with preserved repetition skills.
  • Conduction. Impaired repetition abilities characterize it. It’s despite relatively preserved verbal communication production and comprehension skills.
  • Primary Progressive (PPA). It is a neurodegenerative condition where lexicon abilities deteriorate progressively over time.
  • Anomia. It’s a word-finding issue. It is a common symptom in various types of lexicon issues. There, individuals have trouble recalling or retrieving specific words.

an elderly man suffering from headache

Overview of Wernicke’s Aphasia

Wernicke’s area damage is a neurological disorder. It’s characterized by difficulties in understanding and producing meaningful verbal communication. It is caused by damage to the Wernicke’s area. It’s a region in the left hemisphere of the brain that handles lexicon comprehension. This condition can significantly impact an individual’s ability to communicate effectively.

This overview aims to provide a concise understanding of the condition. We will highlight its key characteristics and the impact it has on communication. 

We can gain insight into the experiences of individuals affected by this type of verbal impairment and the importance of appropriate support and therapy for their communication needs.

Language Impairments

Individuals with Wernicke’s verbal impairment experience significant lexicon impairments. One of the key features of this Wernicke’s area damage is the presence of fluent but meaningless communication. The affected individuals can produce a large number of words. But the content and meaning of their lexicon are often disorganized and nonsensical. This phenomenon is also known as “word salad.” Also, they may have difficulty finding the right words or understanding the meaning.

Speech Fluency and Comprehension

One of the characteristics of Wernicke’s area damage is the preservation of communication fluency. Individuals with this condition can speak effortlessly. And they maintain a normal rate of verbal communication. But then its content is typically marked by:

  • Frequent word substitutions.
  • Neologisms (invented words).
  • Jumbled sentence structure.

Despite the seemingly fluent output, their communication lacks coherence. And it fails to convey meaningful messages.

Comprehension of spoken and written communication is also impaired in individuals. They often have difficulty understanding the meaning of words, sentences, and conversations. This can lead to: 

  • Significant challenges in following instructions.
  • Engaging in meaningful conversations.
  • Comprehending written materials.

Overview of Broca’s Aphasia

Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas both handle verbal communication. But Broca’s verbal impairment is a condition where people have trouble speaking fluently. It happens when Broca’s area in the brain gets damaged. This area in the frontal lobe helps with lexicon production and verbal communication.

People with this type of verbal impairment find it hard to find words and put sentences together. They may speak slowly and struggle to form complete phrases or use single words. Despite their difficulty in speaking, they can usually understand what others say.

Like Wernicke’s area block, this one also aims to give a brief understanding of Broca’s verbal impairment and its specifications. We will explain its main features and how it affects communication. This knowledge also highlights the importance of customized interventions and support. It helps to improve their ability to communicate effectively.

Language Impairments

According to our Wernicke’s aphasia vs Broca’s aphasia guide, individuals with Broca’s verbal impairment experience significant lexicon issues. One of the characteristics is the difficulty in forming words. And constructing grammatically correct sentences can be hard. They tend to speak in short, telegraphic phrases or produce halting, effortful verbal communication. Despite their limited communication output, their comprehension of communication remains relatively intact.

Speech Production and Expressive Difficulties

Similar to Wernicke’s areas and other speech disorders, individuals with Broca’s verbal impairment struggle to articulate words. And they may experience difficulty with word finding. A slow, difficult, and effortful manner characterizes their verbal communication. They often omit function words. For example, articles and prepositions. And they rely on content words to convey meaning. This leads to agrammatism. There, sentences lack proper grammar and syntactic structure.

Although expressive abilities are affected, individuals often maintain good comprehension of the lexicon. They can understand the meaning of words, sentences, and conversations. But they may have difficulty comprehending complex or lengthy linguistic structures.

Common Difference Between Broca’s and Wernicke’s Aphasia

Here is the difference between broca’s and wernicke’s aphasia:

  • Lexicon Production. In Broca’s verbal impairment, individuals struggle with verbal communication production. And they have limited output. It’s characterized by halting, effortful communication and difficulty forming grammatically correct sentences. In contrast, individuals with Wernicke’s verbal impairment have fluent communication. But they produce a nonsensical and disorganized lexicon, often called “word salad.”
  • Comprehension. Individuals with Broca’s damage have relatively preserved comprehension. But those with Wernicke’s type experience comprehension difficulties. They struggle to understand the meaning of spoken and written communication. It includes words, sentences, and conversations.
  • Verbal Communication Fluency. According to our Wernicke’s aphasia vs Broca’s aphasia guide, Broca’s damage type is associated with non-fluent speech. A slow rate, limited vocabulary, and impaired articulation mark it. Wernicke’s damage is characterized by fluent communication with a normal rate and intonation. But the content lacks coherence and meaning.
  • Grammar and Syntax. According to our Wernicke’s aphasia vs Broca’s aphasia guide, Broca’s damage often leads to agrammatism. There, individuals have difficulty with grammatical structures and omit function words. In Wernicke’s verbal impairment, grammar, and syntax are usually preserved. But the content of the communication lacks meaningful context.

designation of different areas of the brain

Bottom Line

In summary of our Wernicke’s aphasia vs Broca’s aphasia guide, conditions differ in terms of:

  • Lexicon production.
  • Comprehension.
  • Verbal communication fluency.
  • Grammar.
  • Syntax.

Broca’s verbal impairment is usually characterized by: 

  • Non-fluent verbal communication production. 
  • Preserved comprehension.
  • Grammar difficulties. 

Wernicke’s area damage is usually marked by: 

  • Fluent but meaningless verbal communication.
  • Impaired comprehension.
  • Preserved grammar.

Understanding distinctions between Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas helps in accurate diagnosis and treatment.


How does a person with Broca’s aphasia talk?

A person with Broca’s aphasia typically speaks with great effort. They use short, telegraphic phrases and experience difficulty forming grammatically correct sentences.

What does Wernicke’s aphasia sound like?

It’s characterized by fluent but nonsensical speech. It’s often called “word salad,” where the content lacks coherence and meaning.

What are the differences between Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area?

Broca’s area handles language production. And it’s located in the frontal lobe. Wernicke’s area is usually involved in lexicon comprehension. And it’s in the posterior part of the superior temporal gyrus in the brain’s left hemisphere.

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15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
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Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
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Monica Del Bosque
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