'Arabic uses different part of brain than Hebrew'

Different brain requirements make learning and “decoding” of Arabic more challenging than English, Hebrew, study finds.

March 23, 2012 04:13
1 minute read.
Arabic text [illustrative]

Arabic writing 370. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)


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Reading Arabic as one’s mother tongue, one uses different parts of the brain than when reading the Hebrew and English one was raised with, according to a new study conducted at the University of Haifa.

This is true even though both Arabic and Hebrew go from right to left, while English goes from left to right.

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These different brain requirements make the learning and “decoding” of Arabic more challenging than the other two languages.

Dr. Raphiq Ibrahim of the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities and the Learning Disabilities Department, and Prof. Zohar Eviatar of the Department of Psychology collaborated on the study.

“It emerges that the contribution of the two halves of the brain to processing written language depends on the graphic and linguistic structure of these languages,” noted Ibrahim.

Native Arabic is more difficult to read “because the two halves of the brain divide the labor differently when the brain processes Arabic than when it processes Hebrew or English,” the Haifa researchers said.

The two brain hemispheres govern different types of activities: The right hemisphere specializes more in processing spatial tasks and the holistic (pattern- based) processing of messages, while the left hemisphere is responsible for processing verbal messages and local processing of synapses in the brain.

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