Letter to the editor from when this was first published:

I read with great interest Mr. Henderson’s August cover story about the differences in the ways whites and Asians read faces. His article reminded me of a 2003 paper (P. Kochunov, P. Fox et. al., “Localized Morphological Brain Differences Between English-speaking Caucasians and Chinese-speaking Asians,” Developmental Neuroscience, May 2003) that compared English-speaking whites and Chinese-speaking Chinese, and found differences in how the brain processes speech: “The left middle frontal gyrus (MFG), including Brodmann area (BA), is strongly activated in native Chinese speakers during a variety of linguistic tasks, but is not activated or is weakly activated in native English speakers performing the same tasks.” The authors noted the same differences when Chinese and whites did “auditory tasks.”

The paper concluded that the brain is plastic and develops differently depending on the language learned. This may be true. However, I have waited in vain for a similar study of full-blooded Chinese born in the West who speak only English. How do their brains work? Can it be that the research has been done but that the results have not been widely reported because brains of Chinese work differently no matter what language they are speaking? The findings Mr. Henderson reports suggest that this could be so.

— Charles A. Anderson, Davis, CA