Research press release


Nature Communications

Neuroscience: Early linguistic experience has long lasting effects on the brain



今回、Lara Pierceのグループは、43人の未成年者(10~17歳)にフランス語の偽単語(例えば、‘vapagne’や‘chansette’)を聞かせて、その後再び偽単語を聞いた時に応答するという内容の作業記憶課題を行わせて、その際の脳の活性を機能的磁気共鳴画像法(fMRI)によって記録した。これら43人の参加者はフランス語を流暢に話し、次の3グループに分類できる。(1)中国語に接したことのないフランス語使用者、(2)フランス語を第2言語として流暢に話す中国人、(3)乳幼児期にフランス人夫婦の養子になり、フランス語のみを話す中国人。



Early exposure to a language influences how the brain processes sounds from a different language later in life, suggests a study published in Nature Communications.

During the first year of life, the brain is highly tuned to collecting and storing information about the world through the senses. During this time, the brain adapts to the sounds of a given language and neural representations of these sounds are established. However, it is unclear if and how these early experiences impact later neural processing of a second language.

Using fMRI scanning, Lara Pierce and colleagues recorded the brain activity of 43 children (aged 10-17) while they listened to made up French words (pseudowords) - such as ‘vapagne’ or ‘chansette’ - and performed working memory tasks in which they had to determine when a pseudoword was repeated. They tested three groups of fluent French-speaking children: French-speaking children with no exposure to Chinese; Chinese children who also spoke French fluently as a second language; and Chinese children who were adopted as infants by French parents and who only spoke French.

Although all groups performed the tasks equally well, brain activation differed between the groups. In monolingual French children with no exposure to Chinese, all areas of the brain expected to be involved in processing of language-associated sounds were activated. However, in addition to activation of these same regions, both Chinese-exposed groups showed activation of areas involved in cognitive control and attention.

These results suggest that children exposed to Chinese as infants process French in a different manner compared to monolingual French children.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms10073

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