Scientists make a spectacular discovery about the origin of language in the brain

Mammal brains, unlike bones, do not fossilize. This fact presents a conundrum for scientists trying to understand how we came to be how we are. For example, scientists have long argued over how humans became able to speak -- if only they had an ancient brain to settle the debate! But with no time machine, [...]

By |2020-04-21T11:15:30+00:00April 21st, 2020|Language, The brain|0 Comments

Why the language-ready brain is so complex

In a review article published in Science, Peter Hagoort, professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Radboud University and director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, argues for a new model of language, involving the interaction of multiple brain networks. This model is much more complex than the classical neurobiological model of language, which was largely [...]

By |2019-10-23T15:32:32+00:00October 21st, 2019|Language, The brain|0 Comments

How Language Hijacked the Brain

I’m sitting in the sun on one of the first mild days of the spring, talking with a modern-day flintknapper about the origins of human language. His name is Neill Bovaird, and he’s neither an archaeologist nor a linguist, just a 38-year-old bearded guy with a smartphone in his pocket who uses Stone Age technology [...]

By |2018-06-10T13:10:45+00:00June 10th, 2018|Language, The brain|0 Comments

How does the brain process speech? We now know the answer, and it’s fascinating

Neuroscientists have known that speech is processed in the auditory cortex for some time, along with some curious activity within the motor cortex. How this last cortex is involved though, has been something of a mystery, until now. A new study by two NYU scientists reveals one of the last holdouts to a process of [...]

By |2018-06-03T15:22:41+00:00June 3rd, 2018|Language, Neuroscience, Speech, The brain|0 Comments

Language Utilizes Ancient Brain Circuits That Predate Humans

A new paper by an international team of researchers presents strong evidence that language is learned using two general-purpose brain systems (declarative memory and procedural memory) that are evolutionarily ancient and not language specific. Contrary to popular belief, the researchers found that children learning their native language and adults learning a foreign language do not [...]

By |2018-02-22T00:27:06+00:00January 31st, 2018|Language, The brain|0 Comments

How you learned a second language influences the way your brain works

Over the past few years, you might have noticed a surfeit of articles covering current research on bilingualism. Some of them suggest that it sharpens the mind, while others are clearly intended to provoke more doubt than confidence, such as Maria Konnikova’s “Is Bilingualism Really an Advantage?” (2015) in The New Yorker. The pendulum swing [...]

By |2017-03-14T20:03:58+00:00March 15th, 2017|Bilingualism, Bilinguals, Language, The brain|0 Comments

6 Potential Brain Benefits Of Bilingual Education

Brains, brains, brains. One thing we've learned at NPR Ed is that people are fascinated by brain research. And yet it can be hard to point to places where our education system is really making use of the latest neuroscience findings. But there is one happy nexus where research is meeting practice: Bilingual education. "In [...]

“Whistled Languages” Reveal How the Brain Processes Information

Before electronic communications became a ubiquitous part of people's lives, rural villagers created whistled versions of their native languages to speak from hillside to hillside or even house to house. Herodotus mentioned whistled languages in the fourth book of his work The Histories, but until recently linguists had done little research on the sounds and [...]

By |2016-11-22T15:01:28+00:00November 22nd, 2016|Languages, Linguistics, The brain, Whistle language|0 Comments

Brain ‘reads’ sentence same way in 2 languages

When the brain “reads” or decodes a sentence in English or Portuguese, its neural activation patterns are the same, researchers report. Published in NeuroImage, the study is the first to show that different languages have similar neural signatures for describing events and scenes. By using a machine-learning algorithm, the research team was able to understand [...]

By |2016-11-07T12:17:18+00:00November 7th, 2016|Languages, Neuroscience, The brain|0 Comments

How language is processed by your brain

If you read a sentence (such as this one) about kicking a ball, neurons related to the motor function of your leg and foot will be activated in your brain. Similarly, if you talk about cooking garlic, neurons associated with smelling will fire up. Since it is almost impossible to do or think about anything [...]

By |2018-02-22T00:22:30+00:00August 17th, 2016|Language, The brain|0 Comments