Originally identified by Reil (1809) and subsequently named by Burdach (1819), the arcuate fasciculus is a white-matter, neural pathway that intersects with both the lateral temporal cortex and frontal cortex via a “dorsal projection that arches around the Sylvain fissure.” (Rilling et al., 2008, pg. 426). Classical hypotheses saw this pathway as a critical component in connecting two centres of language: Broca’s area (speech production) and Wernicke’s area (speech comprehension) (Catani and Mesulam, 2008).
Much of these assumptions were based on a tentative relationship between language-impairment and damaged portions of the brain. Notably, damage to the arcuate fasciculus is implicated in a syndrome known as conduction aphasia, where an individual has difficulty in speech repetition. Often characterised by errors in spontaneous speech, an individual with conduction aphasia will be fully aware of their mistake, retaining well-preserved auditory comprehension and speech production while also being syntactically and grammatically correct (ibid).