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Speech interpretation in children occurs using both hemispheres of the brain, in contrast to adults

Author: Aldiyarbek Nurlan

Editor: Merentsova Anastasia


The use of both hemispheres provides a compensation mechanism after a nervous system injury. For example, if the left hemisphere is damaged by a perinatal stroke that occurs immediately after birth, the baby will learn language using the right hemisphere. Babies born with cerebral palsy affecting only one hemisphere can develop the necessary cognitive abilities using the other hemisphere.


The study involved 39 healthy children aged 4 to 13 years, as well as 14 adults aged 18 to 29 years. The participants were asked a well-researched sentence comprehension task. Then, in both groups, a series of analyzes was carried out, during which the fMRI activation patterns in each hemisphere of individual participants were studied, rather than general lateralization (the process occurring in ontogenesis through which various mental functions are associated with the cerebral hemispheres) in the group averages. The researchers then compared the language activation maps for four age groups: 4-6, 7-9, 10-13, and 18-29 years.


Scientists have found that at the group level, even young children exhibit left-sided language activation. However, most young children also show significant activation in the corresponding areas of the right hemisphere.


“Our results show that normal right-brain involvement in speech processing in very early childhood can help maintain and enhance right-brain development if the left is damaged,” the researchers say.