3 years

Why Girls Holded Bunny

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Most children slip up in grammar when they’re learning to speak. Now scientists say the mistakes could vary by gender. Boys and girls tend to use different parts of their brain to learn fundamental parts of grammar. Researchers investigated the different brain systems 10 boys and 15 girls, between the ages of two and five, used when they made mistakes like ‘Yesterday I holded the bunny’. They found girls used a process that dealt with memorising words and associations between them (declarative memory), whereas boys used a process governing the rules of language. Because irregular tenses like ‘held’ are memorised in declarative memory, the researchers predicted girls would barely make mistakes like ‘holded’. But the study showed that girls used ‘holded’ far more than boys. Digging deeper, they found words like ‘holded’ had many rhyming verbs with regular past-tense forms, like folded and moulded. The girls were memorising the regular past tense forms and then applying those to rhyming irregular verbs. But for boys, there were no such associations.