Breaking News
September 24, 2018 - EPA Plan Will Maintain Carbon Emissions From Power Plants
September 24, 2018 - Characterizing pig hippocampus could improve translational neuroscience
September 24, 2018 - Element3 Health reports social and mental engagement play key role in overall health
September 24, 2018 - Paralympic medalists support Fight for Sight’s unique virtual event
September 24, 2018 - ADCETRIS drug receives approval in Japan as frontline treatment option for Hodgkin lymphoma
September 24, 2018 - Public awareness of urological conditions found to be alarmingly low across Europe
September 24, 2018 - Fitter Folks Suffer Milder Strokes: Study
September 24, 2018 - Novel botulinum toxin compound relieves chronic pain
September 24, 2018 - CHMP recommends approval of Gilenya for treatment of multiple sclerosis in children, adolescents
September 24, 2018 - National Friendly’s private medical insurance is a hit with women living in the South East
September 24, 2018 - Academics receive prestigious awards for achievements in blood pressure research
September 24, 2018 - Obese pregnant women can restrict weight gain safely with proper nutrition guidance
September 24, 2018 - CHMP adopts positive opinion of Takeda’s ALUNBRIG for treatment of ALK+ non-small cell lung cancer
September 24, 2018 - China NMPA approves LENVIMA for treatment of unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma
September 24, 2018 - A new approach for finding Alzheimer’s treatments
September 24, 2018 - USC research uncovers previously unknown genetic risk factor for dementia
September 24, 2018 - Study examining mental health among students finds significant disparities in treatment across race
September 24, 2018 - Breakthrough discovery paves way for future test to identify drowsy drivers
September 24, 2018 - Transcatheter mitral-valve repair in patients with heart failure
September 24, 2018 - Study opens new avenues for treatment of Laing distal myopathy
September 24, 2018 - Stroke Facts | cdc.gov
September 24, 2018 - Sarcolipin tricks muscle cells into using more energy, burning fat
September 24, 2018 - Enrollment in opioid controlled substance agreement reduces primary care visits
September 24, 2018 - UTA researchers patent new smart seat cushion technology that helps prevent painful ulcers
September 24, 2018 - Second HPV-Related Primary Cancers Common in Survivors
September 24, 2018 - How a virus destabilizes the genome
September 24, 2018 - Old letters provide insight into Spanish flu pandemic horror
September 23, 2018 - Smart textile-based soft robotic exosuit helps wearers save energy and traverse difficult terrain
September 23, 2018 - New research hub to drive radical change in development and manufacturing of vaccines
September 23, 2018 - AHA: For Hispanics, Neighborhood May Be Key Factor in Heart Disease Risk
September 23, 2018 - Excessive airway nerves tied to more severe asthma symptoms, study finds
September 23, 2018 - Study highlights need to remain vigilant in maintaining key infection control processes
September 23, 2018 - Novel therapeutic strategy for blood vessel related disorders, such as cancer and retinopathy
September 23, 2018 - New naturally occurring antibiotic found effective against Mycobacterium tuberculosis
September 23, 2018 - First-in-human phase 0 study shows clinically-relevant activity of new drug in glioblastoma
September 23, 2018 - Removing tobacco product display from shops reduced number of children buying cigarettes
September 23, 2018 - Random fraction of specialized immune cells leads the charge in battling invaders
September 23, 2018 - Few minutes of sprinting exercise may be as effective as longer exercise sessions
September 23, 2018 - Researchers use neutrons to make first direct observations of water in lipid bilayers
September 23, 2018 - Researchers demonstrate pre-clinical success for universal flu vaccine in new paper
September 23, 2018 - Study reveals surprising gaps in some HIV medical providers’ knowledge of ACA
September 23, 2018 - Oxehealth secures European medical device accreditation for vital signs measurement software
September 23, 2018 - HTN Tx Intensification Common Upon Discharge in U.S. Vets
September 23, 2018 - Fibre can strengthen the intestinal barrier
September 23, 2018 - New platform examines infectious pathogens that may spread from animals to humans
September 23, 2018 - Demographers create detailed color map of population aging in Europe
September 23, 2018 - New type of fatty acid can slow down overreactive immune system
September 23, 2018 - Innovative procedure could provide breakthrough in treating early-stage lung cancer
September 23, 2018 - Research finds drop in number of measles cases in the EU/EEA since March 2018
September 23, 2018 - Researchers acquire new insights into DNA polymerases
September 23, 2018 - Alzheimer’s diagnosis might become simpler with new brain imaging method
September 23, 2018 - Reports Warn of Growing Opioid Crisis Among Seniors
September 23, 2018 - Researchers unravel why people with HIV suffer from more neurologic diseases
September 23, 2018 - Human brain structured to make best possible decision with limited resources
September 23, 2018 - KHN’s ‘What the Health?’ Health on the hill
September 23, 2018 - Bad air and inadequate data prove an unhealthy mix
September 23, 2018 - Regular bedtime and wake time important for heart, metabolic health even among adults
September 23, 2018 - HIV and a tale of a few cities
September 23, 2018 - NIH launches clinical trial to test infusions of combination antibodies in people with HIV
September 23, 2018 - Researchers develop new system to detect consumption of synthetic cannabinoids
September 23, 2018 - Vax-Hub to influenze radical change in development and manufacturing of vaccines
September 23, 2018 - People who have slept lesser than seven hours have higher risks of car crashes
September 23, 2018 - an ancient art may work best to prevent falls in old age
September 23, 2018 - Consumption of foods with lower nutritional quality related to increased cancer risk
September 23, 2018 - Patient Health Information Often Shared Electronically
September 23, 2018 - Can machine learning bring more humanity to health care?
September 23, 2018 - Body organs undergo structural changes in response to diet
September 23, 2018 - Genetic polymorphisms linked with muscle injury and stiffness
September 23, 2018 - As states try to rein in drug spending, feds slap down one bold Medicaid move
September 22, 2018 - Why Eczema Is Tougher to Treat for Black Patients
September 22, 2018 - Team reveals that human genome could contain up to 20 percent fewer genes
September 22, 2018 - USC research uncovers previously unknown genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease
September 22, 2018 - Novel method achieves accurate and precise temperature estimation in fat-containing tissues
September 22, 2018 - BSI accredits Oxehealth’s vital signs measurement software as Class IIa medical device
September 22, 2018 - Evolution of psychiatric disorders and human personality traits
September 22, 2018 - Obesity in early puberty doubles asthma risk for boy’s future offspring
September 22, 2018 - World’s most advanced real-time patient monitoring platform receives key US patent
September 22, 2018 - Study explores connection between sexuality and cognitive status in older adults
September 22, 2018 - LSTM partners with TB Alliance to develop novel TB drug regimens
September 22, 2018 - Annual wellness visits improve delivery of preventive services in elderly population
Research reveals brain mechanism involved in language learning

Research reveals brain mechanism involved in language learning

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Made-up words and objects were shown to participants inside the MRI scanner. Because 3 unknown words and objects were presented simultaneously, it was never immediately obvious which word corresponded to which object. The correspondences could only be learned by keeping track of associations across several minutes. A brain region known as the hippocampus was found to learn the names of objects by predicting the word-object associations and testing these predictions over time. Credit: Dr Sam Berens

Learning a new language may be more of a science than an art, a University of Sussex study finds.

Psychologists found that when we learn the names of unfamiliar objects, brain regions involved in learning actively predict the objects the names correspond to. The brain tests these predictions just as scientists would test a scientific theory.

The team found that the hippocampus – a brain region that is affected in Alzheimer’s disease and some developmental language disorders – plays a key role learning the names of objects via a “propose-but-verify” strategy. Using this strategy learners actively predict which of the words they hear correspond to each of the objects they see.

Twenty-three adults looked at scenes with multiple objects whilst listening to words in an MRI scanner. The MRI scanner allows psychologists to see which brain regions are active while participants carry out tests of memory and attention. The words and objects were made-up so that they were completely new to the study participants. Because multiple unknown words and objects were presented simultaneously, it was never immediately obvious which words corresponded to which object. The correspondences could only be learned across several minutes. However, by covertly proposing name-object correspondences and testing those proposals across many scenes, all of the adults were able to learn the words for all 18 previously unfamiliar objects. The MRI scans revealed that the hippocampus was central to this propose-but-verify mechanism. Specifically, it helped adults remember the word object correspondences over time.

A brain scan is analyzed at University of Sussex. Credit: Dr Sam Berens

The findings, published today, Thursday 15 March 2018, in the journal Current Biology, shed light on how the brain supports language acquisition. The findings have implications for both language education and our understanding of what is happening in languages disorders.

Lead researcher Dr Sam Berens said: “Children have a remarkable ability to learn new languages and it is hotly debated whether they use a propose-but-verify strategy during early language development. Our experiment shows that the hippocampus can support propose-but-verify learning in adults and that this learning mechanism is favoured over other strategies.”

Scanner in use at University of Sussex. Credit: Dr Sam Berens

“A logical next step would be to apply the research techniques that we used in this study to investigate language impairments in children and adults. Children are able to learn new languages effortlessly, but it is still unclear if they learn words in the same way as adults. This research technique would give us more insight into studying language development and will leave us better equipped to help those with developmental language difficulties.”

Senior researcher Dr Chris Bird, who oversaw the research project, is continuing to investigate the ways in which language learning is affected in Alzheimer’s disease and whether some learning strategies are less affected by the condition than others. This programme of research is funded by the European Research Council.

‘Cross-situational learning is supported by propose-but-verify hypothesis testing’, by Sam C Berens, Jessica S Horst and Chris M Bird, is published in the journal Current Biology.


Explore further:
Language is learned in brain circuits that predate humans

More information:
Current Biology (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.02.042

Journal reference:
Current Biology

Provided by:
University of Sussex

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles