STUDY: HUMANS BORN TO LEARN

STUDY: HUMANS BORN TO LEARN

NEW ORLEANS, OCT. 28 (UPI) _ A NEW YORK RESEARCHER FOUND THAT EVEN BEFORE BABIES CAN TALK THEY HAVE ALREADY FULLY DEVELOPED THE CRITICAL AREAS IN THE BRAIN NEEDED TO ACQUIRE LANGUAGE.

THE FINDING, ALONG WITH OTHER NEW STUDIES SHOWING THAT INFANTS AS YOUNG AS SIX MONTHS ARE CONSTANTLY LEARNING NEW BEHAVIORS, SHOWS THAT HUMANS ARE “BORN TO LEARN.”

RESEARCHER JOY HIRSCH OF NEW YORK’S MEMORIAL SLOAN-KETERRING CANCER CENTER USED A POWERFUL BRAIN IMAGING TECHNIQUE CALLED FUNCTIONAL MRI TO TAKE A SNAP SHOT OF THE BRAIN OF A 15-MONTH-OLD GIRL. PRESENTING THE RESEARCH TODAY IN NEW ORLEANS AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE SOCIETY FOR NEUROSCIENCE, HIRSCH SAID THE CASE REPRESENTED FIRST TIME THAT THE TECHNIQUE HAS BEEN USED IN SUCH A YOUNG CHILD.

THE CHILD, WHO IS FROM SOUTH AMERICA, HAD A BRAIN TUMOR THAT MIGHT HAVE AFFECTED THE LANGUAGE AREAS OF HER BRAIN AND HIRSCH WANTED TO ASSESS IF THE IMAGING TECHNIQUE COULD HELP NEUROSURGEONS MORE RELIABLY LOCATE THE TUMOR. AS PART OF THE STUDY, HIRSCH ALSO WANTED TO INVESTIGATE WHETHER VERY YOUNG CHILDREN RESPOND TO LANGUAGE IN THE SAME WAY AS ADULTS.

A 15-MINUTE MRI TEST PROVIDES MAPS OF FUNCTIONAL AREAS IN THE BRAIN AND THE PAINLESS TEST, WHICH REQUIRES NO INJECTIONS, IS WIDELY USED IN ADULTS WHO CAN POSITION THEIR HEAD IN THE MRI MACHINE ACCORDING TO A TECHNICIAN’S DIRECTIONS. HOWEVER, VERY YOUNG CHILDREN CANNOT COOPERATE AND HAVE TO BE SEDATED TO UNDERGO THE PROCEDURE SO THAT THEIR BODIES CAN BE MANEUVERED FOR THE TEST.

IN THE NEW STUDY, THE SEDATED CHILD HEARD 30-SECOND RECORDINGS OF HER MOTHER SAYING FAMILIAR WORDS AND SENTENCES WHILE SHE WAS EXAMINED WITH THE MRI. THE RESULTING BRAIN MAPS SHOWED THAT THE AREAS IN THE BRAIN SENSITVE TO LANGUAGE ACQUISITION WERE AS FULLY DEVELOPED AS IN AN ADULT.

“THE CRITICAL AREAS OF THE BRAIN IN THE ADULT LANGUAGE SYSTEM WERE ALL THERE,” SAID HIRSCH.

28-10-97 06:30

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