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Mapping of Chinese brain bold journey for science

Zhou Wenting
Updated: Oct 2,2018 7:01 AM     China Daily

Scientists are mapping Chinese people’s brains to get a better understanding of how the influence of the Chinese language affects cognitive performance, as well as to learn more about the mechanisms behind cerebral disorders.

Hospitals and universities in Shanghai and Shenzhen, Guangdong province, are the main participants in the joint study commissioned by the Shanghai Research Center for Brain Science and Brain-Inspired Intelligence. They will carry out clinical studies into brain development, cognitive learning processes and brain-related diseases, said Zhang Xu, vice-president of the Shanghai branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and executive director of the research center, in a recent interview with China Daily.

The center employs some of China’s leading brain research experts, some of whom participated in the breakthrough cloning of two monkeys using somatic cells last year.

Bai Chunli, president of the CAS, said at the unveiling ceremony of the research center in May that brain science had become a popular international discipline in recent years, and the world’s major technological powers have invested a lot of resources in the field of study.

The establishment of the research center is an important measure to strengthen the country’s international status in the field.

The center was established “with the ultimate goal of gaining more understanding of the human brain and improving social development and people’s well-being,” Zhang said in the interview during the recent 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai.

Scientists in the United States are also working on human brain mapping, Zhang said. The Shanghai center will focus more on unique Chinese elements, such as the correlation and influence of the Chinese language and calligraphy on the brain, and the identification of functional areas and their roles in neural networks and disease.

Zhang said there has been scientific research demonstrating that the functional areas of the brain stimulated when speaking Chinese and English are different.

“There will also be brain research for infants and children to find answers to various questions, such as the best time to start language learning and whether the learning processes of children are different from those of adults,” he said, adding that research groups in education and psychology will participate in such studies.

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