Why are there individual differences in language learning ability?

By learning a foreign language, you can experience different values and have a direct conversation with a foreign language speaker, but some people are not particularly good at 'learning a foreign language'. Neurologists have come up with a solution to why there are individual differences in the ability to learn foreign languages.

Struggling to Learn a New Language? Blame It on Your Stable Brain | UC San Francisco


In this experiment, 10 patients aged 19 to 59 years who had had epilepsy in the past and underwent brain surgery and had electrodes implanted in the brain to determine the cause of the attack were the subjects. Han Yi and his colleagues, who led the study, told each of them the

tonal language , Mandarin, and tried to read through the electrodes how the brain reacts. Tonal language is a language that has an element of pitch change in words, and it was thought that it was difficult to identify the change in sound because all the subjects were native speakers of English, which is a non-tonal language.

Yi et al. Believed that 'learning the sound of a language is the first step in learning a language,' and started an experiment to make subjects recognize the difference in sound. First, subjects were asked to record the voices of native Mandarin speakers of different ages, both male and female. The speaker spoke words such as 'ma' and 'di' in different tones, from the first to the fourth. Then, after listening to each word in each tone, the subject reported to Mr. Yi and others which tone was what tone, and confirmed the correctness. A series of learning was repeated about 200 times over several days.

When Yi et al. Analyzed the neural signals, it was found that as the subjects learned the language, the movement of neurons became active in the entire auditory field of the brain region responsible for sound processing. Furthermore, it was clarified that the part to be activated was different depending on the tone heard, and that the part to be activated was different depending on the individual.

Yi et al. Pointed out that the fact that the neurons that are activated differ depending on the sound heard is the reason why people have different language learning abilities. By learning a new language with their own neurons while maintaining the neurons that recognize their native language, they conclude that they are using the entire brain in a balanced manner.

in Science, Posted by log1p_kr