Off topic: Just something new on bilingual people's brains (in German)
Thread poster: langnet

langnet  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:49
Member (2002)
Italian to German
+ ...
Oct 13, 2004

Just something new on bilingual people's brains. Unfortunately only in German. But I found it interesting, so I wanted to share it with those who can unterstand German.

www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/0,1518,322942,00.html


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:49
German to English
The brains of bilinguals Oct 13, 2004

langnet wrote:

Just something new on bilingual people\'s brains. Unfortunately only in German. But I found it interesting, so I wanted to share it with those who can unterstand German.



Fascinating, langnet. And here\'s a rough translation of the first part of the article:
---
Brain research

Bilinguals have modified brain structure

People who grow up bilingually have a greater thickness of nerve tissue in their speech centers. As British researchers discovered, the structure of the grey matter is modified all the more, the earlier a person starts learning the second language.

For a long time, neuroscientists have been advocating that children learn second languages very early – if possible, as early as kindergarten. According to their theory, every young child goes through a phase that is critical for language development in which the brain acquires the necessary connections for its native language. If a second language is added at this time, the children will learn it just as easily. A child who does not start with her first foreign language until after the critical phase, however, according to the theory, will expose herself as a non-native speaker by her accent and syntax errors for the rest of her life.
----

Maybe someone else would like to take on the next part - and correct any glaring errors in mine.

Cheers, Kim


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mrippa  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:49
English to Italian
Report on the same studies in Italian Oct 13, 2004

http://www.repubblica.it/2004/j/sezioni/scienza_e_tecnologia/linguacerv/linguacerv/linguacerv.html

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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:49
German to English
And the rest of it Oct 13, 2004

A research team headed by Andrea Mechelli from the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience in London has now discovered that people who have grown up bilingually have a modified brain structure. The scientists compared the differences in thickness of grey and white matter of native speakers of English with respondents who had also learned Italian as a second language. In the case of the latter, the researchers distinguished between test persons who had learned their second language before they were five years old and those who had not done so until between 10 and 15 years old.

The thickness of the grey matter is greater in people who have grown up bilingually than in those who are monolingual, especially if they have learned their second language early on, the research indicated. The changes in thickness were especially pronounced at the so-called lower left parietal cortex, the region of the brain that is responsible for fluent speaking. The changes in the structure, they found, were all the more pronounced, the better the language skills of the respondents were, the researchers reported in the journal "Nature" (vol. 431, p. 431).

The ability of a person to learn more than one language is thus not a genetic ability, say the researchers. Rather, it is based on the ability of the brain to re-structure itself and thus react to environmentally caused requirements. Supposedly, the connection between the thickness of the grey matter of the brain and certain abilities is not only provable for language but also other areas, the researchers write.


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Gary Daine
English to Spanish
+ ...
The BBC version... Oct 13, 2004

is here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3739690.stm

Gary


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 23:49
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Is there something new? Oct 14, 2004

The same facts were published already in the early 90s. Brain activity was scanned during speaking of foreign language and the area involved was smaller in people which had learned the language since early childhood.

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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
It is not language specific Oct 14, 2004

Supposedly, the connection between the thickness of the grey matter of the brain and certain abilities is not only provable for language but also other areas, the researchers write.

It just means that your talents and areas of interest are growing very early in life.
Not really new - but still a good excuse for some dullness in later years.

[Edited at 2004-10-14 08:26]


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Monique Laville  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:49
Italian to French
+ ...
Right Heinrich Oct 14, 2004

...but everything is new to those who do not know it.

Finally I understand why I used to suffer terrible headaches.
What about those who are polyglot?


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Roberta Anderson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:49
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
languages and migraines Oct 14, 2004

Monique Laville wrote:

Finally I understand why I used to suffer terrible headaches.
What about those who are polyglot?


I was brought up with 2 languages since age 3, and started to learn 3rd language at age 7.
And I've been suffering from migraines from early childhood...
When I told my mum about this article, that's the first thing she said: "that might explain your migraines!"

I've read a lot about migraines, maybe there should be some research done about migraines and polyglots...

Roberta


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TNT TRANSLATION  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:49
English to Korean
Thanks for your kind translation, Kim. Oct 14, 2004

Kim Metzger wrote:

A research team headed by Andrea Mechelli from the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience in London has now discovered that people who have grown up bilingually have a modified brain structure. The scientists compared the differences in thickness of grey and white matter of native speakers of English with respondents who had also learned Italian as a second language. In the case of the latter, the researchers distinguished between test persons who had learned their second language before they were five years old and those who had not done so until between 10 and 15 years old.

The thickness of the grey matter is greater in people who have grown up bilingually than in those who are monolingual, especially if they have learned their second language early on, the research indicated. The changes in thickness were especially pronounced at the so-called lower left parietal cortex, the region of the brain that is responsible for fluent speaking. The changes in the structure, they found, were all the more pronounced, the better the language skills of the respondents were, the researchers reported in the journal "Nature" (vol. 431, p. 431).

The ability of a person to learn more than one language is thus not a genetic ability, say the researchers. Rather, it is based on the ability of the brain to re-structure itself and thus react to environmentally caused requirements. Supposedly, the connection between the thickness of the grey matter of the brain and certain abilities is not only provable for language but also other areas, the researchers write.


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