LINGUIST List 13.144

Mon Jan 21 2002

Media: PBS series "The Secret Life of the Brain"

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Fallon, Paul, PBS series "The Secret Life of the Brain"

Message 1: PBS series "The Secret Life of the Brain"

Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 21:34:22 -0500
From: Fallon, Paul <>
Subject: PBS series "The Secret Life of the Brain"

American public television (PBS) is showing a five-part series on the brain,
"The Secret Life of the Brain." Some aspects of the series may be of
interest to linguists since its coverage includes language acquisition and
language disorders.

It airs on some stations on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 9 p.m. Eastern time, with
the first two (hour-long) episodes apparently being shown back to back.

The second episode, "The Child's Brain: Syllable from Sound" is described as

"A child's brain is a magnificent engine for learning. A child learns to
crawl, then walk, run and explore. A child learns to reason, to pay
attention, to remember, but nowhere is learning more dramatic than in the
way a child learns language. As children, we acquirelanguage -- the hallmark
of being human. 

"In nearly all adults, the language center of the brain resides in the left
hemisphere, but in children the brain is less specialized. Scientists have
demonstrated that until babies become about a year old, they respond to
language with their entire brains, but then, gradually, language shifts to
the left hemisphere, driven by the acquisition of language itself. 

"But if the left hemisphere becomes the language center for most adults,
what happens if in childhood it is compromised by disease? Brain seizures
such as those resulted by epilepsy and Rasmussen's syndrome, have a
devastating effect on brain development in some children."

The series website is:

- Paul Fallon
Asst. Prof.
Howard University

Uncover the

How we speak to
our children. 

How children
learn how to

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