New research helps explain why learning a second language is easier for some adults than others. Language learning success or failure has to do with differences in the strength of connections between certain areas of the brain, according to the study published Jan. 20 in the Journal of Neuroscience.
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Even when you’re resting and not doing any specific tasks, the different regions of your brain are communicating with each other, the Canadian researchers explained.
The strength of these connections varies between people, and previous research has linked these differences to variations in language ability.
In this study, researchers at McGill University in Montreal scanned the brains of 15 adult English speakers before they began an intensive 12-week French course. The participants’ language abilities were tested in speaking and reading tests before and after the course.
Those with greater improvement in speaking French by the end of the course had stronger connections between the left anterior insula/frontal operculum — which plays a role in verbal fluency — and the left superior temporal gyrus, an important part of the language network, the researchers found.