August 13, 2022

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Scientists have discovered a brain network capable of responding to the world's different languages  Science

Scientists have discovered a brain network capable of responding to the world’s different languages Science

An international research team led by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has discovered a unique brain network that responds almost identically to speakers of all languages, bringing back to the fore the question of the nature of linguistic diversity. Humans and its biological and cultural aspects.

Brain regions

For more than a century and a half, scientists have known that two areas of the brain are responsible for language processing; The first is Broca’s area, which is located in the dominant side of the frontal lobe of the human brain and is responsible for the construction and pronunciation of words.

Second, it is Wernicke’s area, located at the back of the temporal lobe of the brain, and is often associated with language comprehension, that is, the emotional connection with language that comes to the brain, whether written or audible. Thus, Wernicke’s area handles “incoming” speech, while Broca’s area handles “outgoing” speech.

But the different neural networks in those areas need more study to understand their primary role in processing language, and here’s where it goes. A new study The team published it on July 18, 2022 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Broca’s area in blue on the left, phrenic area responsible for language on the right in green (websites)

Language selection

According to the study, researchers asked 45 people who speak 45 different languages, but in total they fall under 12 language families; Perform language tasks while their brains are scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

The study hypothesized that only listening to or reading sentences in the native language would activate the target language network. To differentiate this network from other brain regions responsible for language, the researchers asked participants to perform additional tasks such as listening to or solving unfamiliar language. Math problems.

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The researchers used 24 short texts and 3 long texts from “Alice in Wonderland” because it is one of the most translated works of literature worldwide, and each was recorded by a native speaker.

According to the new study, the team found that the participants’ neuro-language networks were located in nearly the same brain regions and had the same selective features and frequencies when activated.

Although there were clear differences in word order and the nature of grammar and timing between words or sentences, the difference between speakers of different languages ​​seemed to be similar among speakers of the same language. This confirms the universality of that part of the brain.

Just Press release Presented by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the team is currently engaged in a rigorous study of these findings, either by adding additional languages ​​to confirm the universality of the language network or by examining all parts of a particular network to detect subtle differences specific to each language.