Multi Lingual Brains
The field of neuro-linguistics is still new, and the process of language learning in the brain remains a deep well full of secrets and mysteries, most of which may not become known to science for many years
Multi Lingual Brains
Timothy Doner, an ordinary 16-year old New York boy taught himself, in his spare time, 16 languages including Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Swahili, and even though it is unclear how close to fluent he is - in any of these languages - the high school polyglots may have something unique about his brains that allows him speak and understand many more languages than normal people.
Experts are divided on this issue, which is to say the least complicated, because some people have genes that may encourage the brain to language learning, a few brain regions either extra-large or extra-efficient in such polyglots, unlike normal humans who must study hard.
Montreal McGill University neurolinguist Michael Paradis compared language learning to piano, sports or anything else that requires discipline, commenting that children do well at things they enjoy, so Timothy is just an extreme case of a general principle.
It seems that very young children are excellent at multiple language learning on a simultaneous basis, able to develop native-sounding accents in each tongue. Right through then, into adulthood, each of these languages is kept distinct from the others, yet those who begin language study later in life have much more difficulty.
There could, apparently, even be developmental stages - beyond which certain Language nuances become inaccessible - At only 9 to 12 months old, it is known that babies start to lose that ability to distinguish between sounds not uttered in their native language. Beyond the fourth year, children simply cannot grasp a second language, and beyond the seventh year. other learning takes precedence.
Broca's area and Wernicke's area - two key brain areas - are critical for learning to speak and understanding speech, as scientists have known for over 100 years, though there also many other areas within the brain which process language, including brain regions involved in long-term memory.
This is why brain Parkinson's, Alzheimer's or other disorders - affecting specific areas of the brain - can eradicate either a native language or one learned later in life, while leaving the other one intact, also perhaps bringing out a previously unnoticeable accent. Yet, even as reveals biological clues are revealed about the brains of polyglots, people are probably not biologically fated to either fail or excel at languages.
The field of neuro-linguistics is still new, and the process of language learning in the brain remains a deep well full of secrets and mysteries, most of which may not become known to science for many years. If you do find it easy to learn foreign languages, you might be useless at maths, so there are always balances. Make the most of what you are good at, and you will not go far wrong.