Geared Up for Both Right and Left Brains
Mandarin Chinese speakers use both left and right brains to understand language, whereas English speakers use just left brain. According to research findings from Wellcome Trust researchers, led by Dr Sophie Scott, that when English speakers hear English, the left temporal lobe becomes active. But, when Mandarin Chinese speakers perceive Mandarin, both the left and right temporal lobes are active. The researchers believe that the need to interpret intonation is why Mandarin speakers need to use both sides of their brain. Another fascinating brain research by US and Chinese scientist discovered that, unlike English and other non-tonal languages, the brain processes the tones of the Chinese words in the right hemisphere of the brain, before the left brain get in to process the associate meaning of the sounds. This makes scientists to believe that Chinese people use more right brain than Westerners, simply due to the tonetic and logographic features of the Chinese language.
Geared up for both left and right brains, Chinese language users appear to have more brainpower. According to Science News Magazine (2-12/19-2005) Asian Kids’ IQ Lift: Reading System May Boost Chinese Scores that “Learning to read 2,500 pictorial symbols, as Chinese students do in grade school, yields a 5-point advantage on IQ tests, compared with the scores of Westerners whose languages are based on alphabets, according to a new analysis of mental capabilities of Greek and Chinese children. The international team of analysts, led by psychologist Andreas Demetriou of the University of Cyprus in Nicosia, attributes the scoring disparity to a superiority in visual and spatial tasks that comes with learning to read Chinese.” “Learning the logographic Chinese writing system stimulates spatial perception. It also helps develop the “Right Brain” which is used with vision and not when reading English”, says Professor Demetriou.