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Brain response to a ‘lost’ first language

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Posted November 18, 2014

An infant’s mother tongue creates neural patterns that the unconscious brain retains years later even if the child totally stops using the language, (as can happen in cases of international adoption) according to a new joint study by scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro and McGill University’s Department of Psychology. The study offers the first neural evidence that traces of the “lost” language remain in the brain.

Finding 'lost' languages in the brain

3-D rendered view of fMRI activation patterns for processing Chinese tones showing the unique pattern for the monolingual French group, and similarities in the patterns of activation for both the Chinese-French bilingual and the International Adoptee groups. Credit: Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University

 

“The infant brain forms representations of language sounds, but we wanted to see whether the brain maintains these representations later in life even if the person is no longer exposed to the language,” says Lara Pierce, a doctoral candidate at McGill University and first author on the paper.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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