Study on Learning Chinese Language
Opposite patterns of hemisphere dominance for early auditory processing of lexical tones and consonants (2006)
Hao Luo, Fan-Gang Zeng et al, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University of Science and Technology of China; Cognitive Sciences and Otolaryngology, University of California, Irvine
Scope: used electric recordings of MMN in order of milliseconds to reveal that the hemisphere asymmetry for preattentive auditory processing of a lexical tone and a consonant occurs as early as ≈200 ms after onset of the stimulus. Twenty-two native speakers of Mandarin Chinese (23–25 years old, right-handed, musically untrained, 13 males and 9 females) with normal hearing participated in the study.
Conclusion: In tonal languages such as Mandarin Chinese, a lexical tone carries semantic information and is preferentially processed in the left brain hemisphere of native speakers as revealed by the functional MRI. Our results demonstrate that the preattentive auditory processing of a lexical tone, which defines word meaning as a consonant does, is lateralized to the right hemisphere in opposite to left hemisphere lateralization for the processing of a consonant. The results show that the brain actually processes Mandarin as music and not as words. Unlike English and other non-tonal languages, the brain processes the tones of the words in Mandarin in the right hemisphere of the brain, before the left side of the brain processes the semantics of the information.
Asian Kids’ IQ Lift: Reading System May Boost Chinese Scores (2005)
Bruce Bower, published by Science News Magazine 2-12/19-2005
Scope: article by Bruce Bower about an analysis of an intelligence test between Greek and Chinese children, led by psychologist Andreas Demetriou of the University of Cyprus in Nicosia. Tested 120 Greek and 120 Chinese schoolchildren, ages 8 to 14 for measurement of general intelligence derived from IQ scores. The group included an equal number of boys and girls from each country and from each grade. Most of the kids came from middle-class families. Each child completed age-appropriate tests of mental speed and efficiency, memory, and reasoning aptitude. Test problems in these areas contained verbal, mathematical, and spatial information.
Conclusion: Chinese children outscored their Greek peers by 5 to 7 IQ points. The pattern of findings at different ages indicates that the edge derives almost entirely from the honing of spatial sensibilities in Chinese readers. By age 12, however, 18 percent of Chinese kids ranked as highly efficient visualizers, compared with 6 percent of Greek children. That gap slightly diminished by age 14, with 26 percent of Chinese and 16 percent of Greek youngsters qualifying as particularly good visualizers. “Our findings support the assumption that reading and writing systems are powerful methods for influencing the development of mental abilities, and perhaps brain growth, in individuals and in cultures,” Demetriou says.