The scientists studied the brain by magnetoencephalography and observed the reaction of the brain to spoken sounds. The researchers revealed that six to eight-month old babies listening to how surrounding people speak collect statistics on the sounds they need to know. It is interesting that children can get such sound information only from other speaking humans but not through television or audio set. Hearing sounds change babies’ brain. We can assume that neuron connections that are responsible for the most frequently heard sound distribution of the mother tongue eventually become more powerful. The formation of the brain for a perception of a particular language occurs during the first year of life. Babies get receptive to certain set of sounds. We can assume that corresponding neuron patterns are strengthened and children can perceive only native speech as they grow older because they have started to perceive this language more easily. Consequently, children turn into the language-bound listeners.
A baby can perceive and collect several statistics of linguistic distributions and store them in his or her brain. In this case, a baby will be able to perceive more than one language. Today, scientists continue to study the brain of infants and hope that they will discover the secret of how to help keep our own minds open to language learning for our entire lives.
Svetlana Stroganova, Nikolai Shmelev