Research

Brain anatomy and language in young children

Language acquisition and the child brain

Researchers Sean Deoni, left, and Jonathan O’Muircheartaigh studied brain scans and tested language skills of 108 children aged 1 to 6 years. Develoment of language skills, it turns out, may be heavily influenced by the child’s environment. Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University

Researchers from Brown University and King’s College London have gained surprising new insights into how brain anatomy influences language acquisition in young children. Their study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, found that the explosion of language acquisition that typically occurs in children between 2 and 4 years old is not reflected in substantial changes in brain asymmetry. Structures that support language ability tend to be localized on the left side of the brain.