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Gender Might Have a Say in How Your Child Speaks

Whether a child is a boy or a girl may well be the clue to how it grasps and uses language, according to a study claiming to be the first of its kind.//

A discovery from two Georgetown neuroscientists put it that boys and girls use different ways of processing language. While female brains tend to assimilate language using words and the relationships between them, boys tend to go by the rules of the language. This may well explain mistakes like “I holded the bunny”.

“Sex has been virtually ignored in studies of the learning, representation, processing and neural bases of language. This study shows that differences between males and females may be an important factor in these cognitive processes,” said the lead author, Michael Ullman, PhD, professor of neuroscience, psychology, neurology and linguistics.

He added that since the brain systems tested in this study are responsible for more than just language use, the study supports the notion that “men and women may tend to process various skills differently from one another.” One potential underlying reason, suggested by other research, is that the hormone estrogen, found primarily in females, affects brain processing, Ullman said.

The study, whose co-author is Joshua Hartshorne, was published earlier this year in the journal Developmental Science.

Researchers know that women tend to be better than men at verbal memory tasks, such as remembering word lists, and that this ability depends on declarative memory. Included within declarative memory is a “mental lexicon” in which word forms are memorized and remembered. The grammatical rules that allow us to combine words in sentences depend on “procedural” memory. Researchers have found that both boys and girls may be equally adept at this process, which depends on a different part of the brain than declarative memory.

In this study, Ullman and Hartshorne hypothesized that girls would be better than boys
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