A lost native language may have a lasting effect on the brain

If someone asked you to think back to your earliest memory, you might remember something from when you were three or four. However, a study published in the journal Nature Communications shows that our brains remember so much more than we thinkTech Times talks about the lasting effects that a language can have on our brain.

Scientists at McGill University in Canada have shown that monolingual and bilingual children use different parts of their brain. This has been studied and proven through different methods for a while. Being raised in an environment with more than one language causes you to have a bilingual brain, which develops language processes differently from other children who only speak one language.

However, this study went beyond bilingual and monolingual children, and looked at adopted Chinese children who, since their first year of life, have not spoken or been around the Chinese language. Using fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), researchers were able to see that when these children spoke, the didn’t process language as a monolingual as might have been expected, but instead as a bilingual.

What does this mean? Children or babies that were exposed to more than one language in the first few years of life will later process language as a bilingual person. This information is important to know, not just because it’s interesting, but also because it means we can look at brain plasticity to make better teaching plans for learners of one, two, or multiple languages, even if they don’t know it.

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