by Victor Tangermann, Futurism
In a new study published in the journal Science of Learning, researchers showed that small amounts of electrical stimulation through specially designed ear pieces improved the adult participants’ abilities to recognize foreign language tones — an effect that lasted after the stimulation was halted.
“Humans are excellent perceptual learners,” the paper’s introduction reads. “Yet, a notable and well-documented exception is the acquisition of non-native speech categories in adulthood.”
By stimulating the vagus nerve using the ear pieces, the group was better able to better identify and distinguish between four different Mandarin tones, as Inverse reports.
That’s impressive, because differentiating between those four common tones is extremely hard for native English speakers who are not used to tonal languages.
Overall, they saw an improvement of 13 percent in distinguishing an easier-to-tell-apart pair of Mandarin tones when compared to those who didn’t receive brain stimulation — although the effect was almost imperceptible for more difficult tones.
© 2020 Futurism