Re: Self improvement in the human brain was Re: DNA as a measure of brain complexity

From: Philip Goetz (
Date: Sun Feb 26 2006 - 09:23:48 MST

On 2/25/06, Michael Roy Ames <> wrote:
> The hypothesis that humans lose the ability to easily absorb languages as we
> grow older has long been proven false (MacNamara, 1973; McLaughlin, 1977).
> The difficulty younger children have in acquiring language is often
> underestimated. Older children and adults learn languages faster and more
> easily for the similar investment of time and effort. The only advantage
> younger children appear to have is in the accurate expression of basic
> phonemes. This allows younger children to learn specific pronounciation and
> accent more easily.

I am very skeptical of this claim. I have known far too many adults
who moved to America after their childhood, who quickly reach a
plateau of capability with English that they then never move beyond,
despite years of trying. For instance, I have a Chinese friend who
has developed a great vocabulary and has spoken English fluently for
years, but still uses "he" and "she" interchangeably, despite this
being pointed out to her many, many times. (People will overlook
almost any grammatical error that doesn't hinder comprehension, but
for some reason they always jump on anyone who attributes gender
improperly, even if the meaning is clear.)

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