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Can parts of your brain switch function

Posted Mar 03 2011 5:59am
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A study taken place by neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has suggested that the visual cortex of the brain can dramatically change its function to language.
It has always been thought that language develops in two highly developed areas of the brain known as Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Broca's area helps us to produce language, where Wernicke's area help to understand language. These areas specifically arrange cells and connect with other brain regions which uniquely suits them to process language, the study suggests.
Other functions such as hearing and vision have distinct processing areas of its own. But now, evidence exists that language processing can be flexible. Language processing shows some activity in the left visual cortex of blind people when reading Braille, for example. This area might now indicate full-fledged language processing skills.
Marina Bedny, an Institute post-doctoral associate and lead author of the study, said: "Your brain is not a prepackaged kind of thing. It doesn't develop along a fixed trajectory, rather, it's a self-building toolkit. The building process is profoundly influenced by the experiences you have during your development", she said in a Science Daily research report.
It is not clear why the visual cortex would be recruited for language processing, when the language processing areas of blind people already function normally.
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