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Language exposure and brain myelination in early development

Fibla, Laia; Forbes, Samuel H.; McCarthy, Jordan; Mee, Kate; Magnotta, Vincent; Deoni, Sean; Cameron, Donnie; Spencer, John P.

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Laia Fibla

Jordan McCarthy

Kate Mee

Vincent Magnotta

Sean Deoni

Donnie Cameron

John P. Spencer


The language environment to which children are exposed has an impact on later language abilities as well as on brain development; however, it is unclear how early such impacts emerge. This study investigates the effects of children’s early language environment and socioeconomic status (SES) on brain structure in infancy at 6 and 30 months of age (both sexes included). We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to quantify concentrations of myelin in specific fiber tracts in the brain. Our central question was whether Language ENvironment Analysis (LENATM) measures from in-home recording devices and SES measures of maternal education, predicted myelin concentrations over development. Results indicate that 30-month-old children exposed to larger amounts of in-home adult input showed more myelination in the white matter tracts most associated with language. Right hemisphere regions also show an association with SES, with older children from more highly educated mothers and exposed to more adult input, showing greater myelin concentrations in language-related areas. We discuss these results in relation with the current literature and implications for future research.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 9, 2023
Online Publication Date May 15, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date May 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 16, 2023
Journal The Journal of Neuroscience
Print ISSN 0270-6474
Electronic ISSN 1529-2401
Publisher Society for Neuroscience
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (3.3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2023 the authors

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