Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Telegraph: Can't learn a foreign language? Not true, say scientists

All it takes is saying the word over-and-over; 160 times. One word at a time I guess.
All one needs to do is listen to a word 160 times over that period, found Cambridge neuroscientists.

After that the brain will have formed a whole new network of neurons specifically tasked with remembering that word.

The process happens far quicker than previously thought, they found.

Dr Yury Shtyrov and his team made the discovery after placing electrodes on the heads of 16 healthy volunteers to monitor their brain activity.

First they recorded the pulses generated when they listened to a familiar word. Then the volunteers were made to listen to a made-up word, over and over again.

Initially the brain had to work hard to recognise the new word. But after 160 repetitions over 14 minutes, the new memory traces were "virtually indistinguishable" from those of the already familiar word, said Dr Shtyrov.

He said: "What this suggests is that practising language is important. Every little helps.

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