This paper reviews current research and contemporary theories of subcortical participation in the motor control of speech production and language processing. As a necessary precursor to the discussion of the functional roles of the basal ganglia and thalamus, the neuroanatomy of the basal ganglial-thalamocortical circuitry is described. Contemporary models of hypokinetic and hyperkinetic movement disorders based on recent neuroanatomical descriptions of the multi-segmented circuits that characterise basal ganglion anatomy are described. Reported effects of surgically induced lesions in the globus pallidus and thalamus on speech production are reviewed. In addition, contemporary models proposed to explain the possible contribution of various subcortical structures to language processing are described and discussed in the context of evidence gained from observation of the effects of circumscribed surgically induced lesions in the basal ganglia and thalamus on language function. The potential of studies based on examination of the speech/language outcomes of patients undergoing pallidotomy and thalamotomy to further inform the debate relating to the role of subcortical structures in speech motor control and language processing is highlighted.

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