New research from Brown University suggests that a child’s environment might be more influential in predicting language skills than solely one's brain anatomy would predict. The findings indicate that the explosion of language acquisition that typically occurs in children between the ages of 2 and 4 is not reflected in substantial changes in brain asymmetry.

New research from Brown

Image source: Brown University


​The researchers were looking for more development of myelin on the left side of children’s brains (i.e., asymmetry) as they entered the early period of language acquisition. Myelin is a fatty material that insulates nerve fibers and helps electrical signals move around the brain. Instead, they found that the asymmetry of myelin was already present in even the youngest of children, and did not occur due to language acquisition. The researchers believe that this finding highlights the importance of environment during the critical period for language development.

Read the official press release here or on Brown's website.