Monday, June 12, 2006

Protect your left caudate

An recent article in the Technology section of the Globe & Mail, entitled "Wire for sound", describes the following:

"Brain-imaging studies have shown that people who are fluent in two languages use the same brain circuitry for both. This left scientists wondering how the brain differentiates between two languages.
in Britain, Germany and Japan have found evidence that part of the brain known as the left caudate helps bilingual people distinguish the language they hear and control the one they speak.

The study involved a group of people comfortable in both German and English and another group fluent in Japanese and English, but the researchers suggest that the same system is at work in all bilingual brains.

They say their conclusions are supported by a trilingual woman who suffered damage to her left caudate. She retained her ability to speak all three, but would involuntarily jump from one to another."

As a bilingual person, I am not aware of my mental processes to that extent but I do know that if I am tired, my English is greatly interfered by French than when I am rested.


Rene Gregoire said...

Brain function is indeed an intriguing and complex phenomenon. A number of years ago, I worked on an international clinical study whose project leader was a multilingual Belgian. He fluently spoke English, French, Flemish, as well as (if my memory is correct) Italian and German.
Some time later, I heard that his colleagues had begun to notice that, in mid-conversation, he would suddenly "switch" from one language to another and back again. When this was brought to his attention, he reported that he was unaware of the transitions. The problem became more frequent, and he was eventually diagnosed with an inoperable brain cancer.

Oleg Kuzin said...

J'espère que le simple oubli d'une langue ne signifie pas cancer du cerveau. Une de mes collègues françaises, mariée à un francophone, avait régulièrement des difficultés à se remettre à parler en anglais au bureau en début de semaine. Mon épouse sait immédiatement que je suis fatigué lorsque mon anglais commence à prendre des tournures françaises.