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Laka: 'Language exists in the brain'
Date:6/30/2008

This release is available in Spanish.

The "La Mente Bilinge" research team that doctor Itziar Laka leads in the Faculty of Arts at the University of the Basque Country analyses bilingual processing of language. The aim is to find out how the brain acquires and manages languages and to discover in what way languages being similar or different is influential in this process.

In order to understand how we become fluent in a language and to better comprehend bilingualism, the La Mente Bilinge ("the bilingual brain") research team at the Faculty of Arts of the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU analysed the acquisition process for languages. As Doctor Itziar Laka, Director of the team, explained, "language is not something that circulates out there somewhere; although we have ways of representing it, language exists in the brain". In October 2007 they began the BRAINGLOT project, focusing on bilingualism, in collaboration with numerous research teams and under the coordinating leadership of Dr. Nuria Sebastin from the University of Barcelona. This project links neurosciences and linguistics and, within this, "we respond to the questions most concerning linguistics: How are languages organised in the brain? Does there exist some interchange of influences between them? Is it important that the languages are similar or not? When is a second language learnt?"

Acquisition of language

Despite much research on acquisition of languages amongst monolingual persons, scientists still have to ask themselves basic questions about bilingual acquisition: How do babies realise that they are in a bilingual environment? What are the clues for them in discovering this? How is discrimination between languages produced in infants? "We have just begun research in this line and working with children requires taking it slowly,
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Contact: Alaitz Ochoa de Eribe
alaitzo@elhuyar.com
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Elhuyar Fundazioa
Source:Eurekalert

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