Researchers Use Video Game to Crack the 'Language Code'

May 18, 2011 -

Carnegie Mellon University's Lori Holt and Sung-Joo Lim and Stockholm University's Francisco Lacerda are using video game training with a mock "alien" language to replicate the challenges of learning languages as an infant. The research found that listeners were to quick recognize word-like units. The study was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

To uncover how spoken sounds are decoded by the brain, the research team designed a video game narrated in deliberately distorted speech. The soundtrack (unintelligible babble in any language) was the only source of instruction for the 77 adult players in the study. After only two hours of play, the participants could reliably extract world-length sound categories from continuous alien sounds and apply that learning to advance through the game.

"Traditionally, when we study adult learning in the lab, it's nothing like how infants learn language," said Holt, professor of psychology at CMU and a specialist in auditory cognitive neuroscience. "This video game models for adults the challenge language learning poses to infants. This presents the opportunity to study learning in ways that are just not feasible with infants."

Lacerda, professor of phonetics and an expert in language acquisition, agrees that using video games is a promising new way to explore language learning.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to approximate the task facing infants by creating a setting where adults are forced to infer what the meaning of different sound elements might be, and to do it in a functional way."

The research has the potential to help researchers better understand and effectively treat a number of conditions including dyslexia and improving second language learning.

Lim, a graduate student in psychology at CMU and lead author of the study, has used the game to help adults learn English.

"Native speakers of Japanese can use this type of training to learn English consonants they have difficulty distinguishing," she said

Holt, director of CMU's Speech Perception and Learning Laboratory, is interested in taking the study further to determine how the video game and its alien soundtrack engage different areas of the brain to produce rapid learning. The next step is to investigate this by observing players with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to view real-time brain reactions to the video game.

Researchers will present their findings at the Acoustical Society of America's annual meeting May 23-27 in Seattle.

For more information on research at Carnegie Mellon, visit www.cmu.edu/research/brain.


Comments

Re: Researchers Use Video Game to Crack the 'Language Code'

I love this stuff.  I majored in CS and minored in linguistics; Watson's performance on Jeopardy was one of the most fascinating things I've ever seen.

Re: Researchers Use Video Game to Crack the 'Language Code'

That is just too cool 

Re: Researchers Use Video Game to Crack the 'Language Code'

This is really cool. Like really cool. I want to try doing that, play an unfamiliar game in an unfamiliar language, too bad imports won't work on my consoles.

-Austin from Oregon

Feel free to check out my blog.

 
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MechaCrashNo mention of shoving PT into the memory hole, I see.05/29/2015 - 8:38am
WonderkarpSorry for caps. copy pasted the title05/29/2015 - 8:36am
Wonderkarphttp://www.ign.com/articles/2015/05/29/silent-hills-publisher-konami-issues-apology-explains-mobile-first-future KONAMI ISSUES APOLOGY, EXPLAINS ‘MOBILE FIRST’ FUTURE05/29/2015 - 8:36am
PHX Corphttp://www.gamespot.com/articles/need-for-speed-will-require-an-online-connection/1100-6427672/ Need For Speed Will Require An Online Connection05/29/2015 - 7:54am
Wonderkarpjust be happy and encourage it.05/29/2015 - 7:37am
DocMelonheadSorry about that, but I'm surprise at what IP participate in this discussion.05/29/2015 - 7:25am
E. Zachary KnightIron, I did not Google Search because I figured the ESRB would publish such infor on their site, which is where I looked. http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_process.jsp05/29/2015 - 7:22am
WonderkarpDocMelonHead, don't look a gift horse in the mouth05/29/2015 - 7:21am
E. Zachary KnightDoc, Uncalled for. Please keep things civil.05/29/2015 - 7:21am
MattsworknameThey were discussing the appeals process for Esrb ratings Doc.05/29/2015 - 7:21am
DocMelonheadDid IP post something that isn't related to White Supremecy?05/29/2015 - 7:13am
IronPatriotBut hey, you're welcome.05/29/2015 - 5:23am
Andrew EisenEZK did say he didn't find any info on the appeals process. And if all he did was look at the ratings process part of the ESRB's website, he wouldn't have. That's where I would have looked too. But hey, thanks for being thorough and finding the info.05/29/2015 - 5:01am
Andrew EisenDude, again. I am NOT saying there is no appeals process. THERE OBVIOUSLY IS. All I am saying is that the appeals process is not described in the ratings process part of the ESRB's website.05/29/2015 - 4:59am
IronPatriotI googled appeal esrb.org and it is the first and third hits. Second is esrb talking about appeals for web publishers. Gamefaqs is fourth.05/29/2015 - 4:01am
IronPatriotZachary said he did not find any information about a formal appeals process. I did a simple search and found two places on the esrb site with the info. Just sayin.05/29/2015 - 3:57am
IronPatriotOn Google I get "1 Written Testimony of Patricia E. Vance President ... - ESRB" http://www.esrb.org/about/news/downloads/pvtestimony_6_14_06.pdf05/29/2015 - 3:55am
Andrew EisenNow, that post on GameFAQs was made four years ago. It appears the ESRB has since moved the appeals process stuff behind the publisher login on its website.05/29/2015 - 3:32am
Andrew EisenOh, third link on the Google search. Okay. That leads to a GameFAQs message board which quotes a section of the ESRB website that includes a description of the appeals process. But when you follow the link, that quote doesn't exist.05/29/2015 - 3:30am
Andrew EisenThird link down from what? Look, I'm not arguing the existance of an appeals process. There obviously is one. I was merely noting that it's odd that it isn't described on the website's ratings process section but it is on the mobile site.05/29/2015 - 3:25am
 

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