Why Is Learning a New Language Harder After Childhood?

Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2010/09/02/Norman_Doidge_The_Neuroplasticity_Revolution_An_Update

Why is learning a second language more difficult after the onset of adolescence? Psychiatrist Norman Doidge explains that as we get older and master our first language, the competitive nature of brain plasticity deteriorates our ability to pick up a new one.


What is brain plasticity? It’s a term that explains how brain functions aren’t rigid and set in stone at an early age, but rather are changeable and adaptable. Put simply, an old dog CAN learn new tricks…but they need to apply themselves. It’s “use it, or lose it.”

In his return to the Brisbane Writers Festival, Norman Doidge gives an update on some of the latest findings relating to brain plasticity. He explains how understanding that the brain can change itself has huge potential for new treatments for neurological problems, and can also inform what we know about how the human brain grows, learns and adapts.

Doidge tells the remarkable story of how, in his last visit to Brisbane in 2008, he met a woman Jane Gapp whose daughter had the incurable condition Locked-In Syndrome. Reading Doidge’s book compelled Gapp to persevere in her attempts to help her daughter recover, and she has since pulled her out of her “Locked-In” state. – Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Norman Doidge, M.D., is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, researcher, author, essayist and poet. He is on the Research Faculty at Columbia University’s Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, in New York, and the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry. He is a native of Toronto.



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