There are those who master so many languages that they should have applauded the day that Babel did come down. For others, however, they hardly know how to string together two or three words in a row despite spending time and energy on them. Why are there people who acquire verbal fluency in foreign languages in a short time and others who have a hard time?
Perhaps part of the mystery (46%, they say) lies in the genes, as a study carried out by researchers at the University of Washington and published by the journal PNAS maintains .
The genes involved in this problem when it comes to acquiring new languages would be the variants of a gene called COMT, as explained by Ping Mamiya , a researcher at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) of the University of Washington and main author of this research:
Our study shows for the first time that COMT gene variants are related to changes in the white matter of the brain (a whitish tissue that is part of the central nervous system) that are the result of learning.
To reach this conclusion, 79 Chinese volunteers with an average age of 20 years who were newcomers to the United States to study at the University of Washington were used.
All of them had passed the minimum level of English required by the educational center. 44 of them underwent an intensive three-week course to improve their level of English, while the rest did not. All of them were analyzed with a technique called diffusion tensor magnetic resonance (DTI), which offers clues about the structure of the brain’s connections. The white matter began to change from the first day of the intensive course.
Via | 20 minutes
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