A study conducted by three researchers in the field of brain development and language acquisition has found that people who were adopted internationally have an advantage in learning the language spoken in their birth countries. This is true even if they were adopted at just a few months of age – and even if they didn’t have any exposure to their native language after the adoption. “This tells us that lasting cognitive and linguistic abilities are being laid down even in the earliest months of life and that what has been retained about the birth language is abstract knowledge about what patterns are possible . . . not, for instance, words,” says Professor Cutler of the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour, and Development.