Bilinguals Use Different Neural Networks When Reading

Languages can be divided into two kinds; opaque and transparent. Opaque languages are the ones in which words are written one way and pronounced another, such as English, and transparent languages are the ones that are pronounced the same as they are written, such as Basque and Spanish. An interesting fact about this is that a recent study by three Spanish researchers have revealed that bilinguals use different neural networks when reading opaque language from when reading transparent language.

According to past studies of human brain, there are two parts of brain that are activated during reading: the dorsal stream and the ventral stream. The first is involved with the sounds of letters, and the latter is involved with deciphering the letters and their meaning. The three scientists analyzed 36 bilinguals, who speak either Spanish and Basque or Spanish and English. As a result, they have discovered that in Basque-speaking bilinguals the dorsal stream was activated more and in English-speaking bilinguals the ventral stream was activated more. The researchers believe that their study can have an impact on teaching languages at school, for example, by guiding the educators to put emphasis on certain aspects of language to help the students learn to read more efficiently.

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About Soomin Kim 14 Articles
Soomin is a Composition major from Seoul, Korea and the rest of her family lives in the Philippines. She speaks English and Japanese (but no kanji), and is studying Spanish. She loves learning new languages because she believes that language is the most powerful way to understand and explore the culture. She enjoys traveling with her friends during vacations, which makes her spend all the money she has saved for a semester. In her free time, Soomin likes to collect vintage clothes, watch movies and Korean TV shows, listen to music, and read books.

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