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

From: William Pearson (
Date: Sun Feb 26 2006 - 18:01:11 MST

On 25/02/06, Michael Roy Ames <> wrote:
> William Pearson wrote:
> > For example during human development we
> > lose our ability to absorb languages like
> > sponge early on, so we can devote resources
> > (energy or computational) to other processes.
> 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.

What I vaguely remember and was refering too was the age of around 9 being the
optimal time to learn a language. Is this wrong?

Wikipedia would suggest otherwise. That at keeping the ability to
learn a language later on requires learning a language early on.

"However, there exists emerging evidence of both innateness of
language and the "Critical Period Hypothesis" from the deaf population
of Nicaragua. Until approximately 1986, Nicaragua had neither
education nor a formalized sign language for the deaf. As Nicaraguans
attempted to rectify the situation, they discovered that children past
a certain age had difficulty learning any language. Additionally, the
adults observed that the younger children were using gestures unknown
to them to communicate with each other. They invited Judy Kegl, an
American linguist from MIT, to help unravel this mystery. Kegl
discovered that these children had developed their own, distinct,
Nicaraguan Sign Language with its own rules of "sign-phonology" and
syntax. She also discovered some 300 adults who, despite being raised
in otherwise healthy environments, had never acquired language, and
turned out to be incapable of learning language in any meaningful
sense. While it was possible to teach vocabulary, these individuals
seem to be unable to learn syntax."

  Will Pearson

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