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Why the child's brain learns grammar effortlessly

Anyone who has ever learned a foreign language knows how laborious it is to acquire vocabulary and grammar. In contrast, children acquire their first language seemingly effortlessly. By the age of four, many children are already speaking without errors and can draw on a large vocabulary. But how can the brain accomplish this? In a study published in the journal "Cerebral Cortex", scientists from MPI CBS now describe that the development of language ability in three to four year olds is accompanied by the maturation of brain areas within the same language network that is also responsible for understanding and producing language in adults.

With constructive feedback our brain learns the perfect timing

It's very important in sports, and in interpersonal relationships, too - perfect timing. But how does our brain learn to estimate when events might occur and react accordingly? Scientists at MPI CBS in Leipzig together with colleagues from the Kavli Institute at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim were able to demonstrate in an MRI study that our brain learns best in connection with constructive feedback.

How the mother's mood influences her baby's ability to speak

Communicating with babies in infant-directed-speech is considered an essential prerequisite for successful language development of the little ones. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have now investigated how the mood of mothers in the postpartum period affects their child’s development. They found that even children whose mothers suffer from mild depressive mood that do not yet require medical treatment show early signs of delayed language development. The reason for this could be the way the women talk to the newborns. The findings could help prevent potential deficits early on. more

Show me your brain scan and I'll tell you how old you really are

The biological age of a person can be accurately determined from brain images using the latest AI technology, so-called artificial neural networks. Until now, however, it was unclear which features these networks used to infer age. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have now developed an algorithm that reveals: Age estimation goes back to a whole range of features in the brain, providing general information about a person's state of health. The algorithm could thus help to detect tumours or Alzheimer's disease more quickly and allows conclusions to be drawn about the neurological consequences of diseases such as diabetes. more

The hemispheres are not equal: How the brain is not symmetrical

Although the brain is divided into two halves, it is not exactly a mirror image. Some functions are processed more on the left side, others more on the right. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) and Forschungszentrum Juelich (FZJ), together with an international team of neuroscientists, have now discovered heritable underpinnings of brain asymmetry—and—how much we share with monkeys. more

In healthy people, the MRI image shows a signal-rich elongated structure surrounded by signal-poor areas at the front and sides. This special shape is reminiscent of a swallow tail.

A team of neurophysicists, led by Malte Brammerloh of MPI CBS, found evidence that the identification of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sign for Parkinson's diagnosis, as a specific anatomical region in the brain, is widespread but not at all correct. A better understanding of the MRI contrast of the anatomical region called "nigrosome 1" has led to clarification of the misunderstanding and could even help diagnose Parkinson's earlier.


Similarity between schizophrenia and dementia discovered for the first time

Researchers for the first time compared schizophrenia and frontotemporal dementia, disorders that are both located in the frontal and temporal lobe regions of the brain. The idea can be traced back to Emil Kraepelin, who coined the term "dementia praecox" in 1899 to describe the progressive mental and emotional decline of young patients. His approach was quickly challenged, as only about 25 percent of those affected showed this form of disease progression. But now, with the help of imaging and machine learning, scientists have actually found the first valid indications of neuroanatomical patterns in the brain that resemble the signature of patients with frontotemporal dementia. Kraepelin was probably right in parts after all. more

Some suffer from depression even before a stroke

Depression is indeed a common problem among people who have suffered a stroke. However, some of them may show symptoms of depression years before their stroke. This is according to a study now published in the journal Neurology. The researchers found that in people who suffered a stroke, the stroke was preceded by various symptoms of depression, which subsequently worsened. more

How self-control develops in the brain

Sometimes we just can't resist, the temptation is too great. Before we know it, the family-size pack of gummy bears is empty or our shopping cart is full to bursting. Young children find it even more difficult than adults to resist this impulse. Between the ages of three and four this ability for self-control makes a decisive developmental leap. Until now it was unclear why that happens. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have now discovered: During this time, a central brain network matures. more

"Psychological time shapes our memories"

Do you remember the last time your mother called? Something like that, probably - it is often difficult for us to say the exact time when an event happened in the past. Jacob Bellmund and Christian Doeller from MPI CBS wanted to find out exactly how our brains estimate such times. They have now published their results in the journal Nature Communications, showing that psychologically constructed time shapes our memories.

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