Tag Archives: Second language

Gene variant linked to language learning

8 Jul

Unfortunately this paper is behind a paywall, so it is hard to evaluate it. The claim is that a variant of the FOXP2 gene is associated with superior ability to learn a second language. Here is the abstract:

“A mutation of the forkhead box protein P2 (FOXP2) gene is associated with severe deficits in human speech and language acquisition. In rodents, the humanized form of FOXP2 promotes faster switching from declarative to procedural learning strategies when the two learning systems compete. Here, we examined a polymorphism of FOXP2 (rs6980093) in humans (214 adults; 111 females) for associations with non-native speech category learning success. Neurocomputational modeling results showed that individuals with the GG genotype shifted faster to procedural learning strategies, which are optimal for the task. These findings support an adaptive role for the FOXP2 gene in modulating the function of neural learning systems that have a direct bearing on human speech category learning.”

 

Learn a language at any age

16 Sep

A great piece in the Guardian, “Am I too old to learn a new language?” The answer is no.

 

‘Despite the difficulties, Black regards learning foreign languages as fun, and treats the endeavour like a puzzle that has to be solved. “I’m doing it partly to keep my brain active,” he says. “When you have some success and can express yourself, it feels like you’re using different parts of your brain that you weren’t using before.”

Indeed, research shows that bilingual children use the same brain regions for both languages if they are learned during childhood, whereas learning a second language later on in life recruits different regions from those involved in using one’s mother tongue. And learning a foreign language, much like learning to play a musical instrument, does indeed appear to be a good way of exercising one’s brain, and keeping it healthy, throughout life.’

Here is an interesting TED talk on language learning and teaching:

More evidence: Learning a second language may reduce the risk of dementia

3 Jun

The BBC is reporting:

“Learning a second language can have a positive effect on the brain, even if it is taken up in adulthood, a University of Edinburgh study suggests.”

Unfortunately, the link to the original paper is not working. I will try to track it down and post it or its abstract.

Here is the abstract from another paper by the same research team. From its conclusion;

“This is the largest study so far documenting a delayed onset of dementia in bilingual patients and the first one to show it separately in different dementia subtypes. It is the first study reporting a bilingual advantage in those who are illiterate, suggesting that education is not a sufficient explanation for the observed difference. The findings are interpreted in the context of the bilingual advantages in attention and executive functions.”

 

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