home
RSS
September 23rd, 2010
08:00 AM ET

From brain to language to accent

Some people have a hard time learning a new language; others find it baffling when someone imitates a foreign accent (here's how the stars do it).

Ping Li, of Pennsylvania State University's Brain, Language, and Computation Lab, wants to know what distinguishes someone who can easily pick up a new language from someone who struggles.  Research has shown that early exposure is key to mastering a second language, but scientists have lots of unanswered questions about how the brain learns a new language or dialect.

The two parts of the brain that are critical for language and speech development are called Broca's area and Wernicke's area (here's more on those).  Broca's area is involved in speech articulation and producing sounds, while Wernicke's area deals more with comprehension of words, Li said.  Recent research has also implicated nearby brain regions that include the parts of the temporal lobe for storing and retrieving meanings, the parietal lobe for for mediating speech and motor representation, and the angular gyrus for integrating different sources - for instance, understanding idioms.

It turns out that the language you speak does change the way your brain processes language, studies have shown.

Li's research has compared the brains of native English speakers and Chinese speakers who are bilingual in English.  The Chinese language does not differentiate verbs and nouns in the same way that English does, and some interesting brain patterns result from that distinction:

In native English speakers, the Broca's area appears to handle verbs and the Wernicke's area deals with nouns.  Chinese speakers who are bilingual from an early age show the same brain behavior, Li said.  But when presented with the same nouns and verbs in Chinese, the Chinese bilinguals do not show a difference between Broca's and Wernicke's area with nouns and verbs.  What's more, Chinese bilinguals who learned English in college do not show the noun-verb distinction in the brain when presented with English, even though their language ability is not necessarily worse.

Research has demonstrated numerous advantages to learning a new language beyond mere communication. People who are bilingual are better able to carry on two tasks at once, switching back and forth between activities more seamlessly and weeding out irrelevant information better. But here's the downside:  Languages can actually compete in your mind, and you may start forgetting some vocabulary of the language you use less.

And it pays to start early.  Research suggests that true native fluency in any language can only be gained in early childhood; some studies found that sensitivity to foreign accent goes down after age 1!  It's not impossible to learn a new language late in life, but it does get more difficult: a 40-year-old will have a harder time than a 20-year-old, says Grant Goodall of the University of California, San Diego. Here are some resources for computer-based language learning.

Very little is known about picking up a new accent specifically, Li said.  We recently wrote about foreign accent syndrome, but it's unclear whether the speech changes in this condition can truly be considered a "foreign accent," Li said.

Li speculates that perhaps people who are good at accent imitation – such as Steve Martin in "The Pink Panther" – may have better-developed parts of the brain that handle speech sounds, or that those areas have better connections to other brain regions.

"We can make some speculations as to whether people like Steve Martin have better abilities to process sound systems of languages," he said.


soundoff (748 Responses)
  1. mcd shades troubleshooting

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I really hope to view the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own blog now 😉

    https://www.capnordic.dk/redirect.asp?url=https://museca.com/blog/00165/

    June 1, 2021 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Zisseloh

    generic cialis what is cialis used to treat cialis overnight shipment

    June 1, 2021 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Rory Ardoin

    https://reddit.app.link/?channel=mweb_branch&feature=xpromo&campaign=xpromo&$og_redirect=https://kameronj70o8.bloggerswise.com/5813264/the-2-minute-rule-for-digital-marketing-agency

    June 1, 2021 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. rv remodel supplies

    /

    June 1, 2021 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. camper trailer repair near me

    /

    June 1, 2021 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. esurance repair shops

    http://www.astro.wisc.edu/?URL=https://businessbima.get-blogging.com/3470769/indicators-on-rv-repair-shop-you-should-know

    June 1, 2021 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Company Van Repair Shop Near Me

    Very nice write-up. I absolutely appreciate this site. Thanks!

    http://test.www.feizan.com/link.php?url=https://truthinplainsight.com/timeline-to-tyranny/

    June 2, 2021 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Angie Bromwell

    It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people on this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    https://rspcb.safety.fhwa.dot.gov/pageRedirect.aspx?RedirectedURL=https://cruzg71u2.qowap.com/59348305/the-smart-trick-of-mercedes-sprinter-repair-shops-near-me-that-nobody-is-discussing

    June 2, 2021 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Augustine Stamdifer

    I really like it when individuals get together and share views. Great site, continue the good work!

    http://dol.deliver.ifeng.com/c?z=ifeng&la=0&si=2&cg=1&c=1&ci=2&or=7549&l=28704&bg=28703&b=37275&u=https://johnnyp92s0.iyublog.com/4102061/5-simple-statements-about-repair-shop-explained

    June 2, 2021 at 01:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. orange county tv repair

    http://brooklynohio.gov/TRK/C/3p6zZpKrM9Y=/X/ClickTarget.aspx?url=http://ancientforestessences.com/board/board_topic/349324/2081148.htm?page=8

    June 2, 2021 at 03:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. EncoxAni

    onlinecanadianpharmacy 24 safe online pharmacy reviews cvs pharmacy store number

    June 2, 2021 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. toy restoration near me

    https://reddit.app.link/?channel=mweb_branch&feature=xpromo&campaign=xpromo&$og_redirect=https://unban.gr/αταξινόμητα/ti-ine-ke-pos-litourgi-to-adsense/

    June 2, 2021 at 03:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Bus Repair Shop

    Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful article. Thanks for providing this information.

    https://ranking.8ne.jp/11/out.cgi?id=seons32&url=https://intronesia.com/intro/apa-itu-siklon-tropis-siklon-tropis-dikenal-dengan-berbagai-istilah-berdasarkan-lokasi-terbentuknya?start=10

    June 2, 2021 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Thea Schroer

    Great article. I am facing many of these issues as well..

    https://za.zalo.me/v3/verifyv2/pc?token=OcNsmjfpL0XY2F3BtHzNRs4A-hhQ5q5sPXtbk3O&continue=ocrvfleetservices.com

    June 2, 2021 at 09:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. n95 masks

    This is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very accurate info… Thank you for sharing
    this one. A must read article!

    June 2, 2021 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Kaley Lundstrom

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your website is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    https://reddit.app.link/?channel=mweb_branch&feature=xpromo&campaign=xpromo&$og_redirect=https://zandert13x2.thelateblog.com/4949221/a-secret-weapon-for-maserati-repair-shops-near-me

    June 2, 2021 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jonathon Swafford

    http://redirects.tradedoubler.com/utm/td_redirect.php?td_keep_old_utm_value=1&url=https://cesarq92u1.webdesign96.com/4767872/the-definitive-guide-to-repair-shop

    June 2, 2021 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Van Frame Repair Shop

    /

    June 2, 2021 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Ima Wolfenbarger

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't fail me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, however I actually believed you'd have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you could fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.

    http://dol.deliver.ifeng.com/c?z=ifeng&la=0&si=2&cg=1&c=1&ci=2&or=7549&l=28704&bg=28703&b=37275&u=https://archerc96u5.blogminds.com/details-fiction-and-digital-marketing-firms-12721381

    June 2, 2021 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. bucket truck california

    Your style is so unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this web site.

    http://crl.ucsd.edu/cgi-bin/ax.cgi?http://bongdaplut.net/plus/profile.php?id=12760

    June 3, 2021 at 02:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Diesel Sprinter Repair Service

    There's certainly a great deal to know about this topic. I love all of the points you made.

    http://www.flash.wakunavi.net/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=333&url=http://www.commercialrepairshop.com

    June 3, 2021 at 05:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. EncoxHtf

    cialis 100 mg usa cialis company cialis 2.5mg online

    June 3, 2021 at 05:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Social Media Marketing Businesses Near Me

    Hi there! This blog post could not be written much better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I will send this information to him. Pretty sure he's going to have a very good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

    http://www.littlesamaritan.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.getmoneytraveling.com/

    June 3, 2021 at 05:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    http://esafety.cn/blog/go.asp?url=https://fleetrepairshops.com

    June 3, 2021 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Mercedes Sprinter Steering Gear Repair

    http://www.lshinc.biz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleettruckrepairshop.com/

    June 3, 2021 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. mission hills collision center

    https://isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/article.asp?xxIDxx=5988&xxURLxx=https://ocrvparts.com/

    June 3, 2021 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Social Media Marketing Company Near Me

    http://www.mediareference.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=orangecountysocialmediamarketingexperts.com

    June 3, 2021 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Van Sliding Door Repair

    Itís hard to find well-informed people in this particular topic, however, you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    https://mitsui-shopping-park.com/lalaport/iwata/redirect.html?url=https://youtube.com/watch?v=M52GtxyYxfE

    June 3, 2021 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. interior repair near me

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always exciting to read articles from other authors and practice something from other sites.

    http://www.schornsteinfeger-duesseldorf.de/redirect.php?url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eeiwltyckU

    June 3, 2021 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. shop for seats rv

    After I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the exact same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks!

    http://telemail.jp/_pcsite/?des=015660&gsn=0156603&url=www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9hEYnThpE0/

    June 3, 2021 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. box truck repairs

    Very good post. I'm facing a few of these issues as well..

    https://hr.bjx.com.cn/go.aspx?u=www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9cLLsF5HEg/

    June 3, 2021 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. ZisseVed

    erectile dysfunction cialis is generic cialis available what is the difference between viagra and cialis

    June 3, 2021 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Mercedes Sprinter Service Center Near Me

    https://www.bookmerken.de/?url=http://youtube.com/watch?v=kW8l1mpgDdA/

    June 4, 2021 at 00:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. how to repair rv blinds

    https://p-hero.com/hsee/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=88&url=https://ocrv.org

    June 4, 2021 at 02:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. SEO Marketing Consultant

    Good article! We are linking to this great post on our site. Keep up the good writing.

    http://shadygroveumc.org/System/Login.asp?id=56099&Referer=http://www.internetmarketingsupply.com

    June 4, 2021 at 02:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. eye exam near me

    https://tool.toponseek.com/keywords-explorer-by-url/?url=https://bestservicenearme.compi-network-la-gi/

    June 4, 2021 at 02:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. roof repairs orange county ca

    Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to produce a good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a whole lot and don't manage to get anything done.

    https://www.streetmap.co.uk/redirect.srf?id=toshibam&d=http://ocrv.rocks/rv-repair-shop-pacoima-california

    June 4, 2021 at 02:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Mercedes Sprinter Service Center Near Me

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?

    https://www.p1-uranai.com/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=538&url=https://www.ocrvfleetservices.com

    June 4, 2021 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Sprinter Mercedes Service

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the finest sites online. I most certainly will highly recommend this blog!

    http://www.margaron.ru/bitrix/redirect.php?event1=&event2=&event3=&goto=https://sprintervanrepair.com

    June 4, 2021 at 05:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Dodge Sprinter Service Near Me

    I really love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím looking to create my very own website and want to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Cheers!

    https://www.momoantena.com/redirect?url=https://ocrv.store/

    June 4, 2021 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. rex trailers horse

    http://www.london.umb.edu/?URL=http://www.ocrv.xyz/rv-repair-shop-grand-terrace-california

    June 4, 2021 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. salon near me

    I truly love your site.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you develop this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím looking to create my very own website and want to know where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Many thanks!

    http://volkshilfe-salzburg.mobile-websites.at/?task=get&url=http://quotenearme.com/

    June 4, 2021 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Sprinter Van Repair Near Me

    http://belize.thepokemoncompany.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sprintervanrepairshop.com

    June 4, 2021 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Sprinter Van Repair Facilities

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely think this web site needs a great deal more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the advice!

    http://www.dorsten.de/Externer_Link.asp?ziel=https://www.sprinterrepairnearme.com/

    June 4, 2021 at 15:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. toyhauler furniture

    http://www.hivresearcher.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.xyz

    June 4, 2021 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Internet Marketing Specialists

    I blog often and I truly appreciate your information. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed too.

    https://www.iexprofs.nl/go/14940/link.aspx?url=https://www.codymarketing.com

    June 5, 2021 at 02:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Repair Places Near Me

    After looking over a handful of the articles on your web site, I honestly appreciate your way of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my web site too and tell me what you think.

    http://affiliate.joomla-monster.com/idevaffiliate.php?id=789&url=http://ocrvart.com/rv-repair-shop-anaheim-california

    June 5, 2021 at 03:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. High Roof Sprinter Repair Panels

    Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful article. Thanks for providing this info.

    http://wallymarx.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.sprintervanrepair.com/

    June 5, 2021 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. couch upholstery repair near me

    http://www.vanpeople.com/space/link.php?url=https://ocrvmotorsports.us/

    June 5, 2021 at 03:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. driving schools near me

    http://testold.gep.de/?a%5B%5D=https://bjsnearme.com/

    June 5, 2021 at 03:30 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.