Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chinese, English Speakers Vary at Math

Live Science
WASHINGTON (AP)-Things add up differently for native English speakers compared with people who learned Chinese as a first language.

Simple arithmetic was easily done by both groups, but they used different parts of the brain, a new study shows.

Researchers used brain imaging to see which parts of the brain were active while people did simple addition problems, such as 3 plus 4 equals 7. All participants were working with Arabic numerals which are used in both cultures.

Both groups engaged a portion of the brain called the inferior parietal cortex, which is involved in quantity representation and reading.

But native English speakers also showed activity in a language processing area of the brain, while native Chinese speakers used a brain region involved in the processing of visual information, according to the report in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The article doesn't explain whether they believe this is cultural or genetic. I think they should test Chinese-Americans that were born in Asia but learn to speak/read English at a young age. They should also test Vietnamese, Malay, or Indonesian people since they use romanized writing vs. Chinese pictographic characters.

No comments: