Friday, January 7, 2011

adults process language in a baby way!

Do babies process language in a "grown-up" way? First, read this from UCSD:

Babies, even those too young to talk, can understand many of the words that adults are saying – and their brains process them in a grown-up way.

Combining the cutting-edge technologies of MRI and MEG, scientists at the University of California, San Diego show that babies just over a year old process words they hear with the same brain structures as adults, and in the same amount of time. Moreover, the researchers found that babies were not merely processing the words as sounds, but were capable of grasping their meaning [emphasis added].

It certainly is an interesting finding to discover that infant and adult lexical processing may be similar, but why couch it in asymmetrical phrasing? Given the facts as this press release states them, could we equally as well say that adults process language in a baby way? This wouldn't get any press attention, though, would it. Or worse, it would be mocked. The author of the press release, Debra Kain, is referred to as a spokesperson for the UCSD Medical Center in this article. But it's not clear she consulted Jeff Elmen, a very well respected cognitive scientist who participated in the research. I'm not sure how comfortable he would have been with the somewhat excitable language.

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