How language is processed by your brain

Pictured here is an MRI image of a human brain.

Story highlights

  • The regions of the brain involved with language are not straightforward
  • Different words have been shown to trigger different regions of the brain
  • The human brain can grow when people learn new languages is showcasing the work of Mosaic, a digital publication that explores the science of life. It's produced by the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation that supports research in biology, medicine and the medical humanities, with the goal of improving human and animal health. The content is produced solely by Mosaic, and we will be posting some of its most thought-provoking work.

(CNN)If you read a sentence (such as this one) about kicking a ball, neurons related to the motor function of your leg and foot will be activated in your brain. Similarly, if you talk about cooking garlic, neurons associated with smelling will fire up. Since it is almost impossible to do or think about anything without using language -- whether this entails an internal talk-through by your inner voice or following a set of written instructions -- language per