April 8, 2008 at 12:12 pm #28076
note: In my long (scholarly) thesis on Neidan as Nature’s Language (see articles page), I suggested that left-right brain polarities may be switched due to language differences. Now we have MRI showing that the neuronal pathways in Chinese and Western brains are different, due to language learning. And that Chinese can heal dyslexia by sensory-motor movement (like tai chi?), while westerners need more sound based therapy. There is lots more to discover here, and explore how practices may mutate as they travel between languages and cultures.
Study: Dyslexia Differs by Language
April 07, 2008 10:06 PM EDT
WASHINGTON – Dyslexia affects different parts of children’s brains depending on whether they are raised reading English or Chinese. That finding, reported in Monday’s online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, means that therapists may need to seek different methods of assisting dyslexic children from different cultures.
“This finding was very surprising to us. We had not ever thought that dyslexics’ brains are different for children who read in English and Chinese,” said lead author Li-Hai Tan, a professor of linguistics and brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Hong Kong. “Our finding yields neurobiological clues to the cause of dyslexia.”
Millions of children worldwide are affected by dyslexia, a language-based learning disability that can include problems in reading, spelling, writing and pronouncing words. The International Dyslexia Association says there is no consensus on the exact number because not all children are screened, but estimates range from 8 percent to 15 percent of students.
Reading an alphabetic language like English requires different skills than reading Chinese, which relies less on sound representation, instead using symbols to represent words.
Past studies have suggested that the brain may use different networks of neurons in different languages, but none has suggested a difference in the structural parts of the brain involved, Tan explained.
Tan’s research group studied the brains of students raised reading Chinese, using functional magnetic resonance imaging. They then compared those findings with similar studies of the brains of students raised reading English.
Guinevere F. Eden, director of the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University in Washington, said the process of becoming a skilled reader changes the brain.
“Becoming a reader is a fairly dramatic process for the brain,” explained Eden, who was not part of Tan’s research team on this paper.
For children, learning to read is culturally important but is not really natural, Eden said, so when the brain orients toward a different writing system it copes with it differently.
For example, English-speaking children learn the sounds of letters and how to combine them into words, while Chinese youngsters memorize hundreds of symbols which represent words.
“The implication here is that when we see a reading disability, we see it in different parts of the brain depending on the writing system that the child is born into,” Eden said.
That means, “we cannot just assume that any dyslexic child is going to be helped by the same kind of intervention,” she said in a telephone interview.
Tan said the new findings suggest that treating Chinese speakers with dyslexia may use working memory tasks and tests relating to sensor-motor skills, while current treatments of English dyslexia focus on letter-sound conversions and sound awareness.
He said the underlying cause of brain structure abnormalities in dyslexia is currently unknown.
“Previous genetic studies suggest that malformations of brain development are associated with mutations of several genes and that developmental dyslexia has a genetic basis,” he said in an interview via e-mail.
“We speculate that different genes may be involved in dyslexia in Chinese and English readers. In this respect, our brain-mapping findings can assist in the search for candidate genes that cause dyslexia,” Tan said.
In their paper, the researchers noted that imaging studies of the brains of dyslexic children using alphabetic languages like English have identified unusual function and structure in the left temporo-parietal areas, thought to be involved in letter-to-sound conversions in reading; left middle-superior temporal cortex, thought to be involved in speech sound analysis, and the left inferior temporo-occipital gyrus, which may function as a quick word-form recognition system.
When they performed similar imaging studies on dyslexic Chinese youngsters, on the other hand, they found disruption in a different area, the left middle frontal gyrus region.
The study was funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, the Hong Kong Research Grants Council and the University of Hong Kong.
In a separate paper, published two years ago, University of Michigan researchers reported that Asians and North Americans see the world differently.
Shown a photograph, North American students of European background paid more attention to the object in the foreground of a scene, while students from China spent more time studying the background and taking in the whole scene.April 8, 2008 at 9:28 pm #28077
Thanks for that article, Michael. It supports what I’ve been telling my English students here in China about the differences in the two languages, things I’ve discovered the hard way by teaching and learning the past 5 years or so.
When Chinese people see an English word, the literally “see” it. all the meaning is in the spelling. When English speakers (and other phonetic alphabet users) see a word, they “hear” it. Chinese people write English based on if it looks right, native speakers write English based on how it sounds.
Thus on a forum like this i can write: “c u l8r. I gotta split”. My chinese students typically have to learn c, u, later, and gotta as new words rather than interpreting them intuitively based on sound. Once this secret is revealed they learn and improve much faster.
Likewise, in Chinese, the number of sound combinations is very limited. You can’t make up words like Dr. Seuss does. So when someone writes me a note in pinyin (phonetic spelling of chinese) it’s hard for me to know the exact meaning without seeing the character the sounds refer to. Even Chinese people experience some difficulty with the use of pinyin because “xin” or “hao” can refer to soooo many different characters.
Very interesting to see science documenting this. and a good boost for my ego too 😛April 8, 2008 at 10:58 pm #28079
ARE ASIANS SMARTER?
“It is impossible to reason with them because they do not understand larger issues as we understand in China,” the Ch’ing Emperor K’ang-hsi declared of Westerners. “Their remarks are often incredible and ridiculous.”
Though K’ang-hsi could little have guessed it, his ideas were ahead of his time. Two hundred and eight years later, the notion of Chinese intellectual superiority is thriving. These days, the leading proponents are not Chinese chauvinists but Western scholars. According to several statistical measures of intelligence, people of Asian and especially Chinese descent consistently outscore other racial and ethnic groups. Authors Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein report in their 1994 book, The Bell Curve, that on standardized IQ tests Japanese score 103 on average, while Americans come in at 101 to 102–and Chinese at
The basic facts are clear enough. Over many years of study, researchers have found that the pattern of test results remains largely the same. No matter how the numbers are sorted, matched and crunched, there is a persistent divergence between the figures for Chinese and other ethnic groups. What’s debatable is the meaning of these findings. Are the differences really genetic? Are they cultural–perhaps reflecting the Confucian respect for learning or those generations of mandarins perfecting their test-taking skills? Are, in fact, some races fundamentally smarter than others?
As an academic question, the heritability of IQ is complex and taxing. Much ink has been spilled on issues of statistical interpretation, the proper selection of study groups and the interpretation of findings. Powerful arguments suggest that IQ is largely a genetic legacy; equally powerful arguments suggest the reverse. Oddly, none of them seems to have had the slightest impact on what people believe to be true.
Earlier this year, after a round of tests confirmed the discrepancy yet again, a Hong Kong newspaper asked a local grandmother what she thought of the news. She expressed concern for her daughter’s newborn child, whose father is American. “I believe the findings are true,” she said, “and I worry that the interracial marriage will lower the IQ of my grandson.”
But is it true? Do higher IQ scores mean that Chinese are smarter than the rest of us? Probably not, at least in any meaningful sense. Human intelligence is too vast and subtle a phenomenon to be reduced to a trio of digits. It’s even hard to say what we mean by smart. The world is full of brilliant poets who can’t balance a checkbook, and genius physicists incapable of driving a manual-shift car. Understanding social cues, creating works of art and spawning inventions are all crucial mental tasks that bear little relationship to how well a person can fill in a printed test form.
It’s worth remembering too that IQ isn’t quite the same thing as intelligence. As Stephen Jay Gould pointed out in his 1983 book, The Mismeasure of Man, the mere fact that we can consistently measure something–in this case, IQ–doesn’t mean that thing has any particular significance or corresponds to any intuitive, man-on-the-street concept. By way of analogy, if we measured everybody’s height and divided it by his or her weight, we could come up with a heaviness quotient–an “HQ.” After years of research, we might find that Europeans have a higher average HQ than Chinese. But would that mean Europeans are slimmer than Chinese, get more exercise or are more robust in some vague, undefined way? Without additional information, we couldn’t tell. Likewise, a person’s measured IQ may relate only indirectly to a layman’s notion of being smart.
More fundamentally, the debate over race and IQ misses the real point of human intelligence. At the end of the day, intelligence is about thinking, and groups don’t think. People do. Even the most impressive cerebral capability is useless if it isn’t consciously put to good use. Every one of us should feel it necessary–and possible–to learn more, think more and reason more clearly. There’s no sense being lulled into complacency because our group has better test averages, or lapsing into despair because our compatriots score lower.
As the roster of Nobel prizewinners shows, genius isn’t limited to a single racial or ethnic group. On the contrary, this is an age of uncommonly universal productivity, in which the spread of education, affluence and the means to communicate has released untapped mental powers in every corner of the planet. Triumphs of scientific ingenuity and artistic creativity are sprouting everywhere. In this mental cornucopia, more people have the opportunity to do the things smart people do-learn, think, create-than ever before.
Whatever our personal IQ may be, and wherever we may have happened to obtain it, our choice in the end is all the same–to let our brains languish or to stretch them to new possibilities. Some traits may be racial, but our minds are our own. On that score we all have to stand alone.
Copyright 1995 Time Inc. All rights reserved.April 9, 2008 at 8:44 pm #28081
Wondering if you have looked over the David Wilcox video in the “General” section…
I think it is a tympanic membrane tetrahedron he is claiming is within the brain…
I DEFINITELY think this is happening, not sure about any of his other material…
but that alone is pretty important… if Star Alchemy is causing the poles to turn inside out within the brain, then this tetrahedron can be immedialy correlated to the mystical “Ophanic Enochian” and Hebrew Alphabets..
if you also look at the work of Barbara Brennan or Anna Hayes which show three flows.. one from each eye meeting in the pineal with a crossover of currents throughout the whole brain.. then things look even more like that tetra from Wilcox..
the real twist to all of it is that there seems to be a spontaneous higher energy moving through which allows us to telepathically communicate via a higher part of ourselves while these electric current begin whirling through this tetra..
the third eye on the forehead seems like it is part of parabolic inversion occuring in conjuntion with the brain ventricals
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