Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Nature 430, 453 - 456 (22 July 2004); doi:10.1038/nature02634

Conceptual precursors to language


1 Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37203, USA
2 Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to S.H. (s.hespos@vanderbilt.edu).

Because human languages vary in sound and meaning, children must learn which distinctions their language uses. For speech perception, this learning is selective: initially infants are sensitive to most acoustic distinctions used in any language, and this sensitivity reflects basic properties of the auditory system rather than mechanisms specific to language; however, infants' sensitivity to non-native sound distinctions declines over the course of the first year. Here we ask whether a similar process governs learning of word meanings. We investigated the sensitivity of 5-month-old infants in an English-speaking environment to a conceptual distinction that is marked in Korean but not English; that is, the distinction between 'tight' and 'loose' fit of one object to another. Like adult Korean speakers but unlike adult English speakers, these infants detected this distinction and divided a continuum of motion-into-contact actions into tight- and loose-fit categories. Infants' sensitivity to this distinction is linked to representations of object mechanics that are shared by non-human animals. Language learning therefore seems to develop by linking linguistic forms to universal, pre-existing representations of sound and meaning.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 21-Jul-2004
Journal of Marriage and Family
Siblings help children get along with others in kindergarten
Children who grow up with one or more siblings get along better with their classmates in kindergarten than do only children. In a national study of more than 20,000 children, teachers rated students who had at least one sibling as better able to form and maintain friendships, get along with people who are different, comfort and help other children, express feelings in a positive way, and show sensitivity to the feelings of others.

Public Release: 21-Jul-2004
Psychological Science
Children can have a better memory than adults (at least sometimes)
Believe it or not, a 5-year-old could beat most adults on a recognition memory test, at least under specific conditions, according to a new study. These findings run counter to what has been known for years from memory research – namely, that memory develops from early childhood to young adulthood, with young adults having much better memory than children.
National Science Foundation

Public Release: 21-Jul-2004
Did Napoleon's doctors finish him off?
How exactly did Napoleon Bonaparte die on the island of St Helena? The official version is that he died of stomach cancer, while others believe he was poisoned with arsenic. But now forensic pathologists, who have been studying records from the emperor's last weeks, say he was killed by overenthusiastic doctors.
New Scientist

Public Release: 21-Jul-2004
ET first contact 'within 20 years'
A senior astronomer at the SETI Institute is boldly predicting that if intelligent life exists elsewhere in our galaxy, we'll know about it in 20 years. The prediction is based on the assumption of alien civilisations existing, combined with advances in computer processing power and radio telescope technology.
New Scientist

Public Release: 21-Jul-2004
Food rations hydrated by swamp water...or worse
The same people that brought us the "indestructible sandwich", have now developed a dried food ration that troops can hydrate by using swamp water…or their own urine. The ration, developed by food scientists working for the US military, comes in a pouch containing a filter which removes 99.9 per cent of bacteria and most toxic chemicals from the water used to rehydrate the food. The aim is to reduce the amount of water troops need to carry.
New Scientist
Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?