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How the Brain Picks up a Second Language

First Posted: Aug 29, 2013 08:37 PM EDT

Learning a language can be an excellent way to open a child up to another world, and especially at a young age, introducing new information can be critical to forming syllabus and language structure.

According to scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, the majority of people in the world who do learn to master a second language do so at an early age as picking up the language patterns tend to be much easier then.

Their findings show that brain development after gaining proficiency of a native language is more easily able to modify language in the frontal cortex. The left interior cortex can become thicker and the right interior frontal cortex also can become thinner as a multi-layered mass of neurons may play a major role in cognitive function throughout the process of language, consciousness and memory.

The study suggests that the task of learning a new language is easier during the early years.

 "The later in childhood that the second language is acquired, the greater are the changes in the inferior frontal cortex," Dr. Denise Klein said, researcher in The Neuro's Cognitive Neuroscience Unit and a lead author on the paper published in the journal Brain and Language, via a press release. "Our results provide structural evidence that age of acquisition is crucial in laying down the structure for language learning."

The study authors were able to develop a software program known as The Neuro, which looks at information via an MRI and scans bilingual and 22 monolingual men and women living in Montreal.

More information regarding the study can be found via the Oxford McGill Neuroscience Collaboration Pilot project.

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