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Adopted children may retain brain patterns of their birth language

December 1, 2014

Brain response to a ‘lost’ first language

Finding 'lost' languages in the brain
3-D rendered view of fMRI activation patterns for processing Chinese tones showing the unique pattern for the monolingual French group, and similarities in the patterns of activation for both the Chinese-French bilingual and the International …more
An infant’s mother tongue creates neural patterns that the unconscious brain retains years later even if the child totally stops using the language, (as can happen in cases of international adoption) according to a new joint study by scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro and McGill University’s Department of Psychology. The study offers the first neural evidence that traces of the “lost” language remain in the brain.

“The infant  forms representations of  sounds, but we wanted to see whether the brain maintains these representations later in life even if the person is no longer exposed to the language,” says Lara Pierce, a doctoral candidate at McGill University and first author on the paper. Her work is jointly supervised by Dr. Denise Klein at The Neuro and Dr. Fred Genesee in the Department of Psychology. The article, “Mapping the unconscious maintenance of a lost first language,” is in the November 17 edition of scientific journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
Please read more here.
One Comment leave one →
  1. Gina Lancelot permalink
    December 5, 2014 12:23 pm

    I am a parent if a Chinese adoptee who is in an immersion program. We suspected the first year’s exposure to Mandarin was an advantage. Thank you for posting this article.

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