The Power of Language

Words can change your mind… literally!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Language is a huge part of human development. But can the language we speak physically affect our brains? 

Xuehu Wei and team at the Planck Institute in Germany wondered.

They compared brain scans of ninety-four healthy volunteers who spoke either German or Arabic. They wanted to see how brain connections compared by native language. They measured these connections using computational methods that convert the scan into a three-dimensional model. 

And? The German speakers had stronger connections WITHIN each hemisphere than the Arabic speakers. However, the Arabic speakers had stronger connections BETWEEN the two hemispheres than German speakers. 

The researchers believe these differences are related to certain characteristics of the languages. For instance, Arabic requires more effort to differentiate the sounds in words. German requires more focus on word order. This study shows how our linguistic experiences can shape our brains! 

Looks like all our word pay is playing off! Ugh. You know what I mean!


Wei, X., Adamson, H., Schwendemann, M., Goucha, T., Friederici, A. D., & Anwander, A. (2023). Native language differences in the structural connectome of the human brain. NeuroImage, 270, 119955.