Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Language isn’t what separates us from animals

15.02.2005


Experts at the University of Sheffield have proven conclusively that the functions of language and mathematics are separate in the adult brain, meaning that it is not just linguistic ability that separates us from other animals. Academics and researchers had thought that language may enable higher cognitive functions, and that without it we would lose other high level skills. However, the study has shown that even when the brain is rendered incapable of using or understanding language, it can still retain mathematical ability, another high-level intellectual function.



The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, was undertaken on three men who had severe lesions in the left side of their brains following illness. This had left them with severe aphasia, a condition which means sufferers are unable to use or understand words and sentences. They were asked to solve a variety of mathematical problems and demonstrated that they were still able to complete them successfully.

Dr. Rosemary Varley, of the Department of Human Communication Sciences at the University of Sheffield explains, “There are several reasons why experts believed that language was necessary for other intellectual functions. The theory was that in order to process these concepts, the brain has turn them into language in order to interpret them. So, for example, the number 2 would need to be turned into the word ‘two’ for the brain to understand it”.


“Mathematics and language were thought to be particularly closely linked because maths has a grammar to it that is similar to that used in language. This is reflected in the fact that it matters which way round the numbers are placed in a sum. So, for example, 5-2 is different to 2-5. In language this is reflected in the fact that the order of words differentiates between the subject of the sentence and the object, so that ‘the man bit the dog’ means something very different from ‘the dog bit the man’. The men in our study were unable to distinguish between sentences of the type ‘the man killed the lion’ and ’the lion killed the man’, but could correctly calculate that 20 divided by 5 was 4, and 5 divided by 20 was a quarter.

“The research demonstrates that in adult brains, the language and mathematical functions are separate. However, it may be the case that in childhood we need language in order to build these separate systems.”

Lorna Branton | alfa
Further information:
http://www.shef.ac.uk

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Structured light and nanomaterials open new ways to tailor light at the nanoscale

23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

On the shape of the 'petal' for the dissipation curve

23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Clean and Efficient – Fraunhofer ISE Presents Hydrogen Technologies at the HANNOVER MESSE 2018

23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>