A University of Washington study has found that infant brain structure can help predict children’s language ability at one year of age.
By using brain imaging, researchers are better able to understand how infants’ early brain development paves the pathways for acquiring language. The research out of UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences is the first to identify which brain areas are connected to early language development. It could also provide insight into earlier treatments for children who experience difficulties with speech and language.
Though the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI’s), researchers found that children with a higher concentration of grey and white matter in the cerebellum and hippocampus regions of the brain tended to have greater language ability by one year of age. This was a remarkable find because these areas have been linked with motor and memory, not language. Since infants must both remember sound patterns and then train their mouth and tongues to mimic those sounds, it is now understandable why these regions of the brain are imperative to language development. Importantly, this research could pave the way for future forms of intervention in speech and language pathology.
Source: Brain and Injury, Jan. 2013