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How Our Native Language Shapes Our Brain Wiring

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Our native language influences the way our brains are wired and may underlie the way we think, new research reports. An analysis of the neural connections of native Arabic speakers showed stronger connections between the right and left hemispheres in Arabic speakers, and stronger connections in the left hemisphere language area in German speakers.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognition and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have found evidence that the languages ​​we speak shape the connections in our brains that underlie the way we think.

With the help of magnetic resonance tomography, they looked deep into the brains of native German and Arabic speakers and found differences in the wiring of language regions within the brain.

Xuehu Wei, a PhD student in Alfred Anwander and Angela Friederici’s research team, compared brain scans of 94 native speakers of two very different languages ​​and found that the languages ​​we grew up with wired the brains. indicated to adjust. His two groups of native speakers of German and Arabic, respectively, were scanned with a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

High-resolution images not only show the anatomy of the brain, but they can also derive connectivity between brain regions using a technique called diffusion-weighted imaging. The data showed that the axonal-white matter connections of the language network adapt to native language processing demands and difficulties.

Scientists analyzed the structural language connectome of native speakers of German and Arabic. Credit: MPI CBS

“Arabic native speakers showed stronger connections between the left and right hemispheres than German native speakers,” said the last of a study recently published in the journal. Author Alfred Anwander explained in neuro image “This enhancement is also found across semantic language domains and may be related to Arabic’s relatively complex semantic and phonological processing.”

As the researchers found, native German speakers showed stronger connectivity in the left hemisphere language network. They argue that their findings may be related to the complex syntactic processing of German. This is because the word order is free and the dependency distance of sentence elements is large.

“Brain connectivity is modulated by early learning and environment, and influences adult brain processing and cognitive reasoning. It provides new insights into how the structural language connectome is shaped by native languages,” Anwander said.

This is one of the first studies to document differences in the brains of people raised with different native languages, and may provide a way for researchers to understand differences in the brain’s cross-cultural processing. In the next study, the research team will analyze longitudinal structural changes in the brain of an Arabic-speaking adult as she learns German over her six months.

About this neuroscience research news

author: press office
sauce: Max Planck Institute
contact: Press Office – Max Planck Institute
image: Image credited to MPI CBS

Original research: open access.
Native Language Differences in Structural Connections in the Human Brain’” Xuehu Wei et al. neuro image


Native Language Differences in Structural Connections in the Human Brain

Is the connectome neuroanatomy of language structures modulated by the lifelong experience of speaking a particular language?

In the current study, we compared brain white matter connectivity for language and speech production networks in a large cohort of 94 native speakers of two very different languages. A morphosyntactically complex language of Indo-European languages ​​(German) and a language based on Semitic roots (Arabic). Using network statistics based on high-resolution diffusion-weighted MRI and tractography of the linguistic connectome, in the intrahemispheric frontal lobe to the parietal/temporal dorsal language network known to be involved in complex syntactic processing. It demonstrated that native language speakers exhibit stronger connectivity.

By comparison, native speakers of Arabic showed connections between semantic linguistic areas involving the left temporoparietal network and stronger interhemispheric connections via the posterior corpus callosum connecting the bilateral superior and inferior parietal regions.

Current research suggests that structural language connectomes develop and are regulated by environmental factors such as the characteristic processing demands of native languages.

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