Language – nature or nurture?

Why can children learn any language – is it nature or nurture? Using the world’s first magnetoencephalography (MEG) system designed to study cognitive processing in children, Macquarie University Federation Fellow Professor Stephen Crain will investigate whether or not children have innate language ability.

Crain’s previous research suggests that the meaning of logical expressions could reside in human biology. Crain has used MEG with adults to study how the human brain processes certain language properties, such as the misuse of the word “any” in the sentence “everybody ate any pizza”. He has found that the adult brain responds before the sentence is even finished. The next challenge is to use the child MEG system to see if young children respond in the same way.

Crain is deputy director of the Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, a research centre funded by the Australian Research Council with an emphasis on research in psycholinguistics, visual cognition and cognitive neuropsychiatry.

For more information: Macquarie University,

Prof. Stephen Crain, Tel: + 61 2 9850 9434,