The astounding power of the unconscious to store information we’ve consciously forgotten.
The girls in the Canadian study were between 9 and 17-years old when tested and were adopted at an early age by French-speaking families from Chinese parents.
Their exposure to Chinese had, therefore, been minimal and they certainly had no conscious recollection of their mother tongue.
Lara Pierce, the study’s first author, explained the study’s rationale:
“The infant brain forms representations of language sounds, but we wanted to see whether the brain maintains these representations later in life even if the person is no longer exposed to the language.”
The French-speaking girls adopted from Chinese families were compared with bilingual girls who spoke Chinese and French as well as another group born and raised with just French.
The results surprised the scientists: