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A study shows how the Arabic language influences networking in the brains of native speakers.

The connections between different brain regions responsible for language processing depend on the language in which an individual is raised.

A new MRI-powered study shows that the native language we speak creates communication in our brain that underlies the way we think—that is, a person’s native language can shape how the brain makes connections between different axes of information processing.

The differences observed in the structures of these language networks are related to linguistic features in the native languages ​​of the study participants: German and Arabic.

“So the difference we found there must be due to the language we actually speak, not different ethnicity,” said researcher Alfred Anwander of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognition and Brain Sciences in Germany. in the journal NeuroImage.

Although the language network becomes one of the strongest in the brain, these connections are fragile at birth.

Anwander explains that as we learn to speak, the connections between different brain regions responsible for different types of language processing, such as distinguishing words from sounds and interpreting in the meanings of the sentences, becomes stronger.

Different languages ​​may “tax” some types of language processing more than others. The researchers wanted to see how these differences affect the formation of connections in the brain.

Previous studies have shed light on the areas of the brain that are active during language processing. Although both sides of the brain are involved in auditory processing and the area that evaluates stress and intonation in the pronunciation of words is located in the right hemisphere, these regions are mainly located in the left hemisphere of the brain.

Patrick Friedrich, a researcher at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at the Jülich Research Center in Germany, who was not involved in the study, noted that the brain’s language network is understood to be “somehow universal among participants from other different native languages.” , scientists note the differences: How the brain processes second languages.

“I thought this study was really interesting because it shows structural differences based on original experience, rather than languages ​​that are first learned later,” Friedrich said.

The study included 94 participants who lived only in Germany, half of whom spoke only German and the other half only Arabic.

Despite speaking different languages ​​and growing up in different cultures, the participants were closely matched for factors that may affect their brain connectivity, such as age and education level.

Brain scans are obtained using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

The high-resolution images not only show the anatomy of the brain, but also allow tracing the connections between brain regions using a technique called “diffusion-weighted imaging.” The data showed that focal white matter connections of the language network adapt to the processing demands and challenges of native language.

The scans revealed that the German speakers showed more connectivity in the regions of the left hemisphere involved in language processing compared to the Arabic speakers.

And Anwander explains that the German language is grammatically complex, meaning that the meaning of a sentence is inferred from the grammatical forms of words rather than word order.

He says that syntactic processing regions are mostly located in the anterior parts of the left hemisphere, so higher connectivity within the left hemisphere makes sense.

In contrast, Anwander describes the Arabic language as linguistically complex, and while sentence order remains more stable, word meanings can become more difficult to define.

The researchers observed increased connectivity between the left and right hemispheres of Arabic speakers.

More precisely, the brain of Arabic speakers works more complex than that of German speakers because it requires more listening and concentration between the Arabic speaker and the listener, and therefore the level of brain processing requires of faster effort. To understand the Arabic language spoken by Arabic speakers.

The team concluded that native Arabic speakers showed stronger connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain than German speakers.

Anwander explains that it is possible for the language network formed by a person’s native language to influence other non-linguistic cognitive abilities. For example, a German-speaking person’s memory may be affected by the need to hear all the sentences exactly before analyzing their meaning.

David Green, emeritus professor of psychology at University College London, expressed his reservations about the findings of the study, saying that in addition to the linguistic features of language, the cultural characteristics of speech, such as how people use gestures, can shape brain networks.

The study also did not cover all brain regions involved in language processing, nor did it include measures of brain activity that could be compared between individuals.

“We need to understand the different ways the brain solves a given task and the nature of this variation among individuals,” Green emphasized.

This is one of the first studies to document differences between the brains of people who grew up with different native languages, and may give researchers a way to understand cross-cultural processing differences in brain.

In a future study, the research team will examine structural changes in the brains of Arabic-speaking adults as they learn German over a six-month period.

Source: Live Science

Source: Arabic RT

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