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Kaitlyn Kartchner

Syllable from Sound
In episode 2 of The Childs Brain: Syllable from Sound, researchers show that both
biology and experience play important roles in who a person is and how they develop. By
focusing on the topic of language development, they describe several examples of how the
human experience is made up of natural circumstances and nurturing influences. These examples
below correctly describe this interaction.
One example of this phenomenon was found in the case of Michael, the little boy with a
language development disorder. Researchers werent sure why his mind had such a hard time
processing words. It took until the time he was two for him to learn his first sounds. At age five,
his words were still muddled and he was often confused at their meaning. However, his parents
and therapists worked with him, going over flashcards time and time again so he could practice
the sounds and words. Michaels natural biology, or nature, originally made it very difficult for
him to speak and learn. However, that process was sped up by nurturing parents and teachers
who helped Michael practice to increase his ability to speak. He is now able to say many more
words than when he started and researchers are hopeful his progress will continue.
Another example is evident in all humans when they are babies. Infants listening to
sounds from multiple languages can distinguish between similar sounds. This is their natural
biology at birth. However, as their experience with language grows, their brains start to
specialize in the language they will eventually learn to speak. This change occurs somewhere in

between 7 and 11 months for most children. This allows the brain to prune itself and make room
for further language development in the specialized language.
The third example is from a boy also named Michael. This Michael had to have a left
hemispherectomy to cure intense seizures that were happening hundreds of times per day.
Typically, biology dictates that the left side of the brain houses the centers of language
development. However, in Michaels case, his experience required his brain to adapt and allow
the right side of his brain to take over those precious capabilities. Six months after surgery, his
speech understanding capabilities were back where they were before the event. Even though his
right brain has to use more space than his left brain had to in order to perform the same
functions, Michaels biology was able to adapt to his experience.
These three examples show that both experience and biology are crucial to the
development of children. The work together to provide the human experience, and no one part is
controlled entirely by one or the other. Humans are intricate puzzles of both biology and