Ghosts of Early Language May Linger in the Brain

11:41 minutes

Infants’ brains are primed to pick up the language of their parents. But a new study suggests that those early impressions of language are much more durable than scientists predicted. For example, Chinese adoptees living in Canada, who now speak only French, still process Chinese sounds as native speakers do, even if they have no conscious recall of word meaning. Study author Fred Genesee of McGill University in Montreal discusses the findings, out this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and what they might mean for language learning.

Segment Guests

Fred Genesee

Fred Genesee is professor emeritus in department of psychology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

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About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.

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