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Children use both brain hemispheres to understand language, unlike adults says new finding

Infants and young children have brains with a superpower, of sorts, say Georgetown University Medical Center neuroscientists. Whereas adults process most discrete neural tasks in specific areas in one or the other of their brain’s two hemispheres, youngsters use both the right and left hemispheres to do the same task. The finding suggests a possible reason why children appear to recover from neural injury much easier than adults. The study, published Sept. 7, 2020, in PNAS, focuses on one task — language — and finds that to understand language (more specifically, processing spoken sentences), children use both hemispheres. This finding fits with previous and ongoing research led by Georgetown neurology professor Elissa L. Newport, PhD, a former postdoctoral fellow Olumide Olulade, MD, PhD, and neurology assistant professor Anna Greenwald, PhD. “This is very good news for young children who experience a neural injury,” says Newport, director of the Center for Brain Plasticity and…