Restricted language access during childhood affects adult brain structure in selective language regions

Autor/a: CHENG, Qui; ROTH, Austin; HALGREN, Eric; MAYBERRY, Rachel I.
Año: 2023
Editorial: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences PNAS
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Educación, Educación » Aspectos psicológicos y cognitivos


Due to the ubiquitous nature of language in the environment of infants, how it affects the anatomical structure of the brain language system over the lifespan is not well understood. In this study, we investigated the effects of early language experience on the adult brain by examining anatomical features of individuals born deaf with typical or restricted language experience in early childhood. Twenty-two deaf adults whose primary language was American Sign Language and were first immersed in it at ages ranging from birth to 14 y participated. The control group was 21 hearing non-signers. We acquired T1-weighted magnetic resonance images and used FreeSurfer [B. Fischl, Neuroimage 62, 774–781(2012)] to reconstruct the brain surface. Using an a priori regions of interest (ROI) approach, we identified 17 language and 19 somatomotor ROIs in each hemisphere from the Human Connectome Project parcellation map [M. F. Glasser et al.Nature 536, 171–178 (2016)]. Restricted language experience in early childhood was associated with negative changes in adjusted grey matter volume and/or cortical thickness in bilateral fronto-temporal regions. No evidence of anatomical differences was observed in any of these regions when deaf signers with infant sign language experience were compared with hearing speakers with infant spoken language experience, showing that the effects of early language experience on the brain language system are supramodal.