The average adult’s vocabulary consists of around 30,000 words whereas our closest neighbor, the chimp, can only learn up to 100. Have you ever wondered why language seems to be a uniquely human trait?

New research from King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry in collaboration with Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the University of Barcelona has mapped the neural pathways involved in word learning among humans.

The researchers found a collection of nerve fibers called the arcuate fasciculus that connects the auditory regions at the temporal lobe with the motor area near the frontal lobe which allows the sound of a word to be connected to the regions responsible for articulation.

Scientists Identify how a Pathway in the Human Brain Allows us to Learn New Words

Image source: ScienceDaily

Differences in the development of these auditory­motor connections could explain why people are able to learn words more effectively than others. Interestingly, this pathway is not found in species other than humans, which could explain our unique language abilities.

The implications of these findings are widespread and could alter how language is taught in schools, injury rehabilitation, and detection of language disorders such as dyslexia.

To learn more about the research and how the study was conducted, visit ScienceDaily.

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