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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james_fudgethere's some inside baseball stuff going on in this Andrew - likely some stuff we don't know10/20/2014 - 3:30pm
E. Zachary KnightGreat musical video about online trolling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nS-QeM2ne810/20/2014 - 2:46pm
Andrew EisenBut again, this whole thing is just too damn vague to form an opinion on.10/20/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenWithout the original communication, it's impossible to say if it could honestly be misconstrued as a friendly suggestion rather than an employer directive. However, it appears that subsequent emails should have cleared up any doubt.10/20/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenThose aren't the owner's words, they're Chris Dahlen's. For what it's worth, we do see an email from Gonzalez stating "you've already broken the only rule we set for you!!!!!!!"10/20/2014 - 2:38pm
Michael ChandraSo really the guy's own words strike me as "wah! How dare you disagree with me!" behaviour, which is the sort of childish attitude I am unfortunately not surprised by.10/20/2014 - 2:17pm
Michael ChandraCorrect AE, but then again the owner's own words are about "wishes", not about an order. No "we told him not to", but going against his wishes.10/20/2014 - 2:16pm
Matthew Wilsonyup. sadly that has been true for awhile.10/20/2014 - 2:10pm
james_fudgewelcome to 2014 politics. Increasingly fought online10/20/2014 - 1:54pm
E. Zachary KnightIt is honestly a shame that anyone has to publicly state they are against such vile behavior, but that is the sad life we live.10/20/2014 - 1:46pm
E. Zachary KnightDecided to publicly reiterate my opposition to harassment campaigns. http://randomtower.com/2014/10/just-stop-with-the-harassment-and-bullying-campaigns-already/10/20/2014 - 1:45pm
Andrew EisenMichael Chandra - Unless I overlooked it, we haven't seen how the directive to not talk about whatever he wasn't supposed to talk about was phrased so it’s hard to say if it could have been misconstrued as a suggestion or not.10/20/2014 - 12:35pm
Andrew EisenHey, the second to last link is the relevant one! He actually did say "let them suffer." Although, he didn't say it to the other person he was bickering with.10/20/2014 - 12:29pm
Neo_DrKefkahttps://archive.today/F14zZ https://archive.today/SxFas https://archive.today/1upoI https://archive.today/0hu7i https://archive.today/NsPUC https://archive.today/fLTQv https://archive.today/Wpz8S10/20/2014 - 11:21am
Andrew EisenNeo_DrKefka - "Attacking"? Interesting choice of words. Also interesting that you quoted something that wasn't actually said. Leaving out a relevant link, are you?10/20/2014 - 11:04am
quiknkoldugh. I want to know why the hell Mozerella Sticks are 4 dollars at my works cafeteria...are they cooked in Truffle Oil?10/20/2014 - 10:41am
Neo_DrKefkaAnti-Gamergate supporter Robert Caruso attacks female GamerGate supporter by also attacking another cause she support which is the situation happening in Syia “LET SYRIANS SUFFER” https://archive.today/F14zZ https://archive.today/Wpz8S10/20/2014 - 10:18am
Neo_DrKefkaThat is correct in an At-Will state you or the employer can part ways at any time. However Florida also has laws on the books about "Wrongful combinations against workers" http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/448.04510/20/2014 - 10:07am
james_fudgehe'd die if he couldn't talk about Wii U :)10/20/2014 - 9:16am
Michael ChandraBy the way, I am not saying Andrew should stop talking about Wii-U. I find it quite nice. :)10/20/2014 - 8:53am
 

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