Reading Computer Code Differs From Normal Language For Our Brain

Programming is learned by learning any coding language. Various kinds of symbols and commands are used during programming. With all of those symbols and commands, the computer is instructed on what to perform.

According to the neurological prospective study at MIT has explained that learning to program and learning a language is different. A group of neuro researchers has found that the part of the brain which is engaged in language processing is not into activation while reading computer code.

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The multiple demand network gets activated at that time which is engaged in complicated tasks like solving math problems or puzzles. Although the multiple demand network gets activated it seemed that it relied more on various parts of the network than maths or any logical problem does. This led the researchers to conclude that coding is different from learning a normal language.

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Anna Ivanova the lead author of the study said “Understanding computer code seems to be its own thing. It’s not the same as language, and it’s not the same as math and logic.” 

Researchers were also studying the connection between language and other cognitive functions but in the path of coding, they focused on two coding languages namely Python and ScratchJr.

According to Anna “Here, we were interested in exploring the relationship between language and computer programming, partially because computer programming is such a new invention that we know that there couldn’t be any hardwired mechanisms that make us good programmers.”

In the previous study it has been seen that math and logic problems relyed mainly on the multiple interests of the left hemisphere but the computer code seems to activate both the left and right sides of the multiple demand network.

According to the researchers, they did not find any zone which is completely dedicated to the programming but such action might develop in the people who have a lot of coding experience.

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Evelina Fedorenko said “It’s possible that if you take people who are professional programmers, who have spent 30 or 40 years coding in a particular language, you may start seeing some specialization, or some crystallization of parts of the multiple demand system. In people who are familiar with coding and can efficiently do these tasks, but have had relatively limited experience, it just doesn’t seem like you see any specialization yet.”

With all the study that has been done the conclusion states that there is no defined answer that whether coding should be taught as a math-based skill or a language-based skill. Program learning depends upon both language and multiple demand systems and both maths and language are involved in the process.

Source – MIT

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