Tone languages ​​are forced to work head

The researchers found: the study of the Chinese language makes included in the work of the two hemispheres of the brain.

Tone languages ​​are forced to work head

Traditionally, for speech recognition meets the left hemisphere of the brain. However, the new study researchers at Peking University and their colleagues from Hong Kong have found that this is not true for all languages. And if, for example, when recognizing an English speech, the brain actually uses only the left hemisphere, the recognition of the Chinese demands activity and from the right. The fact that classical Chinese (Mandarin) is a so-called tone languages. Pitch in them is commonly used to distinguish the meaning of words.

In their experiments, researchers using magnetic resonance imaging observed brain activity of volunteers who heard the speech in Chinese or English (which in each case were their relatives). As it turned out, in the English-speaking participants in the study were activated three specific areas of the left hemisphere of the brain responsible for speech recognition - inferior frontal gyrus, superior temporal gyrus anterior and posterior part of the middle temporal sulcus. The same areas are activated and the participants who speak Chinese. However, besides this, they still recorded and the activity in the superior temporal gyrus, right hemisphere (1). This region previously linked by scientists to music perception and, in particular, the pitch. "The pitch is critical for music perception, but it is no less important for the understanding of the meaning in tone languages, - commented on the opening of one of his co-authors, a scientist at the University of Hong Kong Peng Gang (Gang Peng) portal QZ.com. - Based on our results, we can assume that the right hemisphere is involved in speech recognition and all other tonal languages ​​". By the tone, in addition to China, include, for example, Vietnamese, Burmese, Thai and many other languages, especially Asian.

These studies are important for understanding the overall brain activity and interaction of hemispheres in speech processing. On a practical level, they can be useful neurosurgeons during brain surgery. But in addition, they partly explain why "Chinese puzzle" with great difficulty given to people who are accustomed to speak the language in which the pitch has nothing to do with the meaning - for example, Russian or English. For this reason, for example, Mark Zuckerberg or Prince William, to learn Chinese Mandarin, it is necessary during your lessons will literally work as a head more - cycling is not one, and at once both hemispheres.

1. pnas.org