Language & linguistics news from around the world • Updated daily • Relevant stories, selected by humans (not computers)

Share this site!

Category: Psychology/Brain

  • Apr 24, 2012
  • 01:21 AM

Medical scanner to reveal how brain processes languages

Marie-Louise Olson / The National
The magneto-encephalography machine, which was unveiled yesterday at the inauguration of New York University Abu Dhabi's Neuroscience of Language Laboratory, will be able to analyse language processes in the brain faster and more efficiently than current neuroscience technology.
  • Apr 03, 2012
  • 06:08 PM

Bilinguals switch tasks faster than monolinguals, NIH funded study shows

NIH News
Children who grow up learning to speak two languages are better at switching between tasks than are children who learn to speak only one language, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. However, the study also found that bilinguals are slower to acquire vocabulary than are monolinguals, because bilinguals must divide their time between two languages while monolinguals focus on only one.
  • Mar 29, 2012
  • 12:18 AM

In immersion foreign language learning, adults attain, retain native speaker brain pattern

Medical Xpress
A first-of-its kind series of brain studies shows how an adult learning a foreign language can come to use the same brain mechanisms as a native speaker. The research also demonstrates that the kind of exposure you have to the language can determine whether you achieve native-language brain processing, and that learning under immersion conditions may be more effective in reaching this goal than typical classroom training.
  • Mar 27, 2012
  • 09:48 AM

Parlez Vous Francais? It Might Boost Brain Power (audio)

Ever wish you had studied a little harder in your high school French or Spanish class? According to a recent New York Times article, being bilingual has benefits that extend well beyond language skills. Guest host Jacki Lyden explores this issue with Ellen Bialystock, professor of psychology at York University.
  • Mar 23, 2012
  • 06:46 PM

The innate ability to learn language

Angela Herring / News@Northeastern
By utilizing an optical brain imaging technique called near-infrared spectroscopy, or NIRS, the researchers found that newborns have the capacity to learn linguistic rules. This finding — published this month in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience — suggests that the neural foundations of language acquisition are present at birth.
  • Mar 21, 2012
  • 07:33 PM

In which brain do you read?

University of Haifa
Readers whose mother tongue is Arabic have more challenges reading in Arabic than native Hebrew or English speakers have reading their native languages, because the two halves of the brain divide the labor differently when the brain processes Arabic than when it processes Hebrew or English.
  • Mar 20, 2012
  • 02:17 PM

When Your Mouth Betrays You: The Science and Psychology Behind Slips

Sydney Levin / Huffington Post
Dr. Michele Miozzo, language scientist at Johns Hopkins University and author of Biological Foundations of Language Production: A Special Issue of Language and Cognitive Processes, doesn't see errors as deeply personal puzzles to be solved. Rather, he says it comes down to sound and meaning.
  • Mar 19, 2012
  • 08:54 PM

Are Some Brains Better at Learning Languages?

Emily Sohn / Discovery News
For some people, genes may prime the brain to be good at language learning, according to some new research. And studies are just starting to pinpoint a few brain regions that are extra-large or extra-efficient in people who excel at languages. For others, though, it's more a matter of being determined and motivated enough to put in the hours and hard work necessary to learn new ways of communicating.
  • Mar 17, 2012
  • 11:54 PM

Why Bilinguals Are Smarter

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee / New York Times
But in recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.
  • Mar 16, 2012
  • 06:42 PM

Two languages are better than one for immigrants’ health, study finds

Zosia Bielski / Globe and Mail
Respondents who could speak two languages well reported better physical and mental health than unilingual immigrants, according to the study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
  • Mar 16, 2012
  • 12:33 PM

Are We “Meant” to Have Language and Music?

Mark Changizi / The Crux
I believe that language and music are, indeed, not part of our core—that we never evolved by natural selection to engage in them. The reason we have such a head for language and music is not that we evolved for them, but, rather, that language and music evolved—culturally evolved over millennia—for us. Our brains aren’t shaped for these pinnacles of humankind. Rather, these pinnacles of humankind are shaped to be good for our brains.
  • Mar 08, 2012
  • 10:11 PM

Biologists Locate Brain's Processing Point for Acoustic Signals Essential to Human Communication

In both animals and humans, vocal signals used for communication contain a wide array of different sounds that are determined by the vibrational frequencies of vocal cords. Knowing how the brain sorts out these different frequencies -- which are called frequency-modulated sweeps—is believed to be essential to understanding many hearing-related behaviors, like speech. Now, a pair of biologists has identified how and where the brain processes this type of sound signal.
  • Mar 08, 2012
  • 12:39 AM

The Right Type of Words: Words Spelled On Right Side of Keyboards Lead to More Positive Emotions

Words spelled with more letters on the right of the keyboard are associated with more positive emotions than words spelled with more letters on the left, according to new research by cognitive scientists. Their work shows, for the first time, that there is a link between the meaning of words and the way they are typed -- a relationship they call the QWERTY effect.
  • Mar 03, 2012
  • 12:57 PM

When My Eyes Serve My Stomach

Our senses aren't just delivering a strict view of what's going on in the world; they're affected by what's going on in our heads. A new study finds that hungry people see food-related words more clearly than people who've just eaten.
  • Mar 01, 2012
  • 12:38 AM

Texting affects ability to interpret words

Jennifer Myers / University of Calgary
Research designed to understand the effect of text messaging on language found that texting has a negative impact on people’s linguistic ability to interpret and accept words. The study, conducted by Joan Lee for her master’s thesis in linguistics, revealed that those who texted more were less accepting of new words.
  • Feb 29, 2012
  • 08:14 PM

Girls' Verbal Skills Make Them Better at Arithmetic, Study Finds

While boys generally do better than girls in science and math, some studies have found that girls do better in arithmetic. A new study finds that the advantage comes from girls' superior verbal skills.
  • Feb 28, 2012
  • 03:14 PM

Hearing Metaphors Activates Brain Regions Involved in Sensory Experience

New brain imaging research reveals that a region of the brain important for sensing texture through touch, the parietal operculum, is also activated when someone listens to a sentence with a textural metaphor. The same region is not activated when a similar sentence expressing the meaning of the metaphor is heard.
  • Feb 23, 2012
  • 12:28 PM

Scientists Decode Brain Waves to Eavesdrop On What We Hear

Neuroscientists and surgeons have recorded electrical activity in the temporal lobe -- the seat of the auditory system -- to discover how the brain encodes sound. Their model allows them to predict what a person heard based solely on temporal lobe activity. If, as studies suggest, internal "imagined" conversations activate similar areas of the temporal lobe, it may be possible to hear the internal verbalizations of people who cannot talk because of paralysis or stroke.
  • Feb 22, 2012
  • 04:51 PM

Researchers Rewrite Textbook On Location of Brain's Speech Processing Center

Scientists have long believed that human speech is processed towards the back of the brain's cerebral cortex, behind auditory cortex where all sounds are received -- a place famously known as Wernicke's area. But, now, research that analyzed more than 100 imaging studies concludes that Wernicke's area is in the wrong location. The site newly identified is miles away in terms of brain architecture and function.
  • Feb 22, 2012
  • 04:17 PM

U of A scientists know why the caged bird sings

Ed Struzik / Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - When University of Alberta psychology professor Chris Sturdy began studying songbirds to better understand animal evolution and human problems associated with speech and language, he wasn’t sure whether a creature with a chickpea-sized brain could be trained to participate in his experiments.
  • Feb 22, 2012
  • 11:24 AM

Prenatal Testosterone Linked to Increased Risk of Language Delay for Male Infants, Study Shows

New research by Australian scientists reveals that males who are exposed to high levels of testosterone before birth are twice as likely to experience delays in language development compared to females. The research, published in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, focused on umbilical cord blood to explore the presence of testosterone when the language-related regions of a fetus' brain are undergoing a critical period of growth.
  • Feb 22, 2012
  • 09:22 AM

Speech Fillers Actually Improve Listener Recall

Steve McGaughey / Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
Could generations of speech coaches been wrong all these years? New research is showing that speakers shouldn’t discard those “ums” and “ahs” and other speech fillers if they want to be understood by listeners.
  • Dec 31, 2011
  • 01:23 AM

Children don't give words special power to categorize their world

New research challenges the conventional thinking that young children use language just as adults do to help classify and understand objects in the world around them. In a new study involving 4- to 5-year-old children, researchers found that the labels adults use to classify items -- words like "dog" or "pencil" -- don't have the same ability to influence the thinking of children.
  • Dec 22, 2011
  • 12:21 PM

First Physical Evidence Bilingualism Delays Onset of Alzheimer's Symptoms

Researchers have found that people who speak more than one language have twice as much brain damage as unilingual people before they exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. It's the first physical evidence that bilingualism delays the onset of the disease.
  • Dec 10, 2011
  • 12:09 AM

The mechanism behind bilinguals' creativity

Redaksjonen / Morsmal
Bilingualism is assumed to improve creativity but the mechanisms underlying creative acts, and the way these mechanisms are affected by bilingualism, are not very well understood. New research by researchers from Netherlands and Germany sheds more light on bilinguals' creativity.
  • Dec 06, 2011
  • 10:40 PM

Language may be dominant social marker for young children

William Harms / University of Chicago
From a child's perspective, language offers many of the characteristics of a biologically determined or inherited category. Children usually speak the same language as their families, and they likely do not remember the time as infants that they spent learning a native language," says lead author and assistant professor of psychology Katherine Kinzler.
  • Dec 06, 2011
  • 12:41 AM

The chimpanzee who sees sounds

Ewen Callaway / Nature
Apes' association of tones and shades may hold clues to human synaesthesia and language. Chimpanzees meld sounds and colours, associating light objects with high tones and dark objects with deeper tones. The finding hints that chimps, like humans, experience some form of synaesthesia, an uncommon condition in which the senses become intertwined, says Vera Ludwig...
  • Nov 30, 2011
  • 06:42 PM

The communicative brain

William Marslen-Wilson, Lorraine Tyler / University of Cambridge
What is it about the human brain that makes language possible? Two evolutionary systems working together, say neuroscientists Professor William Marslen-Wilson and Professor Lorraine Tyler.
  • Nov 30, 2011
  • 10:08 AM

Is There a Central Brain Area for Hearing Melodies and Speech Cues? Still an Open Question

Previous studies have suggested a particular hotspot in the brain might be responsible for perceiving pitch, but auditory neuroscientists are still debating whether this "pitch center" actually exists. A review article discusses a recent study claiming that this pitch center may not exist after all, or may not be located where previous research has suggested.
  • Nov 30, 2011
  • 10:01 AM

Language test as a smartphone app

...As part of an international research project, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, have liberated this traditional test from the confines of their research laboratory. Since December of last year, they offer the lexical decision task as an app in seven languages, which can be downloaded onto smartphones.