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TED演讲:婴儿的天才语言能力

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shangzening

2016年04月28日

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  I want you to take a look at this baby. What you're drawn to are her eyes and the skin you love to touch.

  我想让大家看看这个婴儿。 吸引大家关注的是她的眼睛 以及让人忍不住摸摸的皮肤。

  But today I'm going to talk to you about something you can't see -- what's going on up in that little brain of hers. The modern tools of neuroscience are demonstrating to us that what's going on up there is nothing short of rocket science. And what we're learning is going to shed some light on what the romantic writers and poets described as the "celestial openness" of the child's mind.

  但今天我要讲些你看不到的东西, 在她的小脑袋瓜里的东西。 当代神经科学的研究工具 展示出我们对婴儿脑袋里的东西 知之甚少。 我们要知道的 是让浪漫作家和诗人 产生灵感 并称之为孩子心智的 “非凡的通慧”

  What we see here is a mother in India, and she's speaking Koro, which is a newly discovered language. And she's talking to her baby. What this mother -- and the 800 people who speak Koro in the world -- understands [is] that, to preserve this language, they need to speak it to the babies.

  大家这儿看到的 是印度的一位母亲, 她讲克罗语, 这是一种新发现的语言。 她对她的孩子说这种语言。 这位母亲 和世界上说克罗语的800人 明白要保留这种语言, 他们必须对婴儿说这种语言。

  And therein lies a critical puzzle. Why is it that you can't preserve a language by speaking to you and I, to the adults? Well, it's got to do with your brain. What we see here is that language has a critical period for learning. The way to read this slide is to look at your age on the horizontal axis.

  在这里有个关键的问题。 为什么要是对你和我,成年人说一种新语言 却不能保留它? 这是和你的大脑有关。 这儿我们看到 有个学习语言的关键期。 读懂这幅图的方法是看你在横轴上的年龄。

  (Laughter) And you'll see on the vertical your skill at acquiring a second language. Babies and children are geniuses until they turn seven, and then there's a systematic decline. After puberty, we fall off the map. No scientists dispute this curve, but laboratories all over the world are trying to figure out why it works this way

  (笑声) 你再对应看纵轴上 你悉得第二外语的能力。 婴儿和孩子是语言天才 直到7岁 然后语言系统会呈下降趋势。 青春期后,如图我们语言能力衰退。 科学家们确信这曲线图的情况, 但是全世界的实验室 都试图查明这到底是怎么回事.

  Work in my lab is focused on the first critical period in development -- and that is the period in which babies try to master which sounds are used in their language. We think, by studying how the sounds are learned, we'll have a model for the rest of language, and perhaps for critical periods that may exist in childhood for social, emotional and cognitive development.

  在我实验室的工作主要是 研究第一个关键期 这个时期是关于 婴儿试着掌握他们语言中的声音。 我们认为通过研究这些被婴儿学会的声音, 我们会给学习其他语言一个模式, 或许关键期也出现在孩童期 也为了研究社会,情感 和认知发展。

  So we've been studying the babies using a technique that we're using all over the world and the sounds of all languages. The baby sits on a parent's lap, and we train them to turn their heads when a sound changes -- like from "ah" to "ee." If they do so at the appropriate time, the black box lights up and a panda bear pounds a drum. A six-monther adores the task.

  我们一直研究婴儿 使用的技巧,也是全世界使用的语言技巧 和所有语言的声音技巧。 婴儿坐在父母的膝上, 我们训练他们,当听到一个声音 从“ah”到 “ee” 他们就转头。 如果他们一听到就转头, 黑盒子就会亮 会出现一只敲鼓的熊猫。 六个月大的婴儿喜欢这个测试。

  What have we learned? Well, babies all over the world are what I like to describe as "citizens of the world." They can discriminate all the sounds of all languages, no matter what country we're testing and what language we're using, and that's remarkable because you and I can't do that.

  我们从中了解到什么呢? 全世界的婴儿 就如我所述的 是世界公民; 他们能区分所有语言的所有声音 不管测试在哪一国,用哪种语言。 令人惊讶的是你我却做不到这点。

  We're culture-bound listeners. We can discriminate the sounds of our own language, but not those of foreign languages. So the question arises: when do those citizens of the world turn into the language-bound listeners that we are?

  我们是受制于文化局限的听众。 我们只能区分我们自己语言的声音, 但分不清外语的那些声音。 所以问题随之产生, 这些小小世界公民在什么时候 变成受制于文化局限的听众?

  And the answer: before their first birthdays. What you see here is performance on that head-turn task for babies tested in Tokyo and the United States, here in Seattle, as they listened to "ra" and "la" -- sounds important to English, but not to Japanese. So at six to eight months the babies are totally equivalent. Two months later something incredible occurs. The babies in the United States are getting a lot better, babies in Japan are getting a lot worse, but both of those groups of babies are preparing for exactly the language that they are going to learn.

  答案是:一岁之前 这里看到的是扭转头测试效果 用来测试日本东京 和美国西雅图的婴儿, 让他们听ra和la的发音 这两个发音在英文里很重要,在日语里却没有 对于6到8个月的婴儿,他们的测试结果完全相似 2个月之后便产生明显变化 在美国的婴儿掌握这些发音比较好, 在日本的婴儿却差很多 但是这两组的婴儿 均蓄势待发地要学习语言。

  So the question is: what's happening during this critical two-month period? This is the critical period for sound development, but what's going on up there? So there are two things going on. The first is that the babies are listening intently to us, and they're taking statistics as they listen to us talk -- they're taking statistics. So listen to two mothers speaking motherese -- the universal language we use when we talk to kids -- first in English and then in Japanese.

  问题在于,在这个2个月的关键期 发生了什么? 在声音开发的这关键期 到底发生什么了? 主要是两件事。 第一婴儿不断地专心听我们说话, 并且做统计 他们统计这些声音。 听听2位母亲说的亲情用语 这是我们对孩子说的通用语言妈妈语 首先是英语,然后是日语。

  (Video) English Mother: Ah, I love your big blue eyes -- so pretty and nice.

  (视频)说英语的妈妈:啊,我多爱你大大的蓝眼睛 这么漂亮,这么好看。

  Japanese Mother: [Japanese]

  说日语的妈妈:[日语]

  Patricia Kuhl: During the production of speech, when babies listen, what they're doing is taking statistics on the language that they hear. And those distributions grow. And what we've learned is that babies are sensitive to the statistics, and the statistics of Japanese and English are very, very different. English has a lot of Rs and Ls. The distribution shows. And the distribution of Japanese is totally different, where we see a group of intermediate sounds, which is known as the Japanese "R." So babies absorb the statistics of the language and it changes their brains; it changes them from the citizens of the world to the culture-bound listeners that we are. But we as adults are no longer absorbing those statistics. We're governed by the representations in memory that were formed early in development.

  帕特里夏·库尔:在语言生成的期间, 当婴儿聆听时, 他们同时也在统计 他们听到的语言。 区分这些声音的能力在变强。 我们了解到的 是婴儿对统计很敏感, 日语和英语的声音统计是非常,非常不同的。 英语有很多R和L音 如分布图所示 日语的分布图则是完全不同的 我们在这儿看到一组中间音, 它们是日语的R音。 婴儿吸收 语言的统计数据 这改变了他们的大脑; 这就是把他们从世界公民 变成像我们一样受文化局限的听众。 但我们成年人 不再吸收这些统计。 我们受我们早期形成的 记忆性语言的影响。

  So what we're seeing here is changing our models of what the critical period is about. We're arguing from a mathematical standpoint that the learning of language material may slow down when our distributions stabilize. It's raising lots of questions about bilingual people. Bilinguals must keep two sets of statistics in mind at once and flip between them, one after the other, depending on who they're speaking to.

  所以我们在这儿看到的 关键期是如何改变我们的语言模式。 我们从数学角度争论 学习语言材料的能力会放慢下来 当我们语言分布的能力趋于稳定时。 这也引出很多关于双语者的问题。 双语者在脑中同时必须记住2组统计 并能任意切换 决定于他们与谁交流

  So we asked ourselves, can the babies take statistics on a brand new language? And we tested this by exposing American babies who'd never heard a second language to Mandarin for the first time during the critical period. We knew that, when monolinguals were tested in Taipei and Seattle on the Mandarin sounds, they showed the same pattern. Six to eight months, they're totally equivalent. Two months later, something incredible happens. But the Taiwanese babies are getting better, not the American babies. What we did was expose American babies during this period to Mandarin. It was like having Mandarin relatives come and visit for a month and move into your house and talk to the babies for 12 sessions. Here's what it looked like in the laboratory.

  那么我们自问, 婴儿能不能统计一种全新的语言? 我们测试了这个,通过给美国婴儿 听他们从没听过的第二种语言 这是在关键期时他们第一次听到普通话。 我们得知,当我们让台北和西雅图的单语者 接触普通话声音, 他们显示同样的模式。 在6到8个月大时他们辨音能力几乎相同 2个月之后,一些不可思议的事情发生了。 但这次台湾婴儿表现好,而不是美国的婴儿。 我们所做的是在这关键期让美国的婴儿 多接触普通话。 这就好像说普通话的亲戚来拜访了一个月 住到你家 和婴儿上了12节普通话课。 在实验室它看起来就像这样。

  (Video) Mandarin Speaker: [Mandarin]

  (视频)普通话说者:[普通话]

  PK: So what have we done to their little brains? (Laughter) We had to run a control group to make sure that just coming into the laboratory didn't improve your Mandarin skills. So a group of babies came in and listened to English. And we can see from the graph that exposure to English didn't improve their Mandarin. But look at what happened to the babies exposed to Mandarin for 12 sessions. They were as good as the babies in Taiwan who'd been listening for 10-and-a-half months. What it demonstrated is that babies take statistics on a new language. Whatever you put in front of them, they'll take statistics on.

  所以我们对他们的小脑袋瓜都做了什么? (笑声) 我们还得有一个对照组 确保来到实验室 并不能提高普通话的水平。 所以这组婴儿来这儿只听英语。 我们从这图表看出 在英语条件下的婴儿没有提高他们的汉语。 但看看上过12次普通话课的婴儿的身上 都发生了什么。 他们和那些曾听普通话有 10个半月大的台湾婴儿一样棒。 这说明了 婴儿对一种新语言也能做统计。 不管你在他们面前说了什么,他们就会统计这语言。

  But we wondered what role the human being played in this learning exercise. So we ran another group of babies in which the kids got the same dosage, the same 12 sessions, but over a television set and another group of babies who had just audio exposure and looked at a teddy bear on the screen. What did we do to their brains? What you see here is the audio result -- no learning whatsoever -- and the video result -- no learning whatsoever. It takes a human being for babies to take their statistics. The social brain is controlling when the babies are taking their statistics.

  我们也好奇 在这一学习过程中 人起了什么样的作用。 所以我们设置了另一组婴儿 让他们如法炮制地上12节课, 但是在电视机前上课 和另一组婴儿只是通过音频上课 看电视屏幕上的玩具熊。 我们又对他们的脑袋瓜做什么了? 我们这儿看到的是音频结果 没有任何学习效果 视频结果 也是没有任何学习效果。 只有人才能 帮助婴儿统计他们的声音数据。 当婴儿在统计时 社会大脑在控制着。

  We want to get inside the brain and see this thing happening as babies are in front of televisions, as opposed to in front of human beings. Thankfully, we have a new machine, magnetoencephalography, that allows us to do this. It looks like a hair dryer from Mars. But it's completely safe, completely non-invasive and silent. We're looking at millimeter accuracy with regard to spatial and millisecond accuracy using 306 SQUIDs -- these are Superconducting QUantum Interference Devices -- to pick up the magnetic fields that change as we do our thinking. We're the first in the world to record babies in an MEG machine while they are learning.

  我们想了解大脑内部 观察各种变化 探究电视前的婴儿 和与人在一起的婴儿有何不同 多亏我们有了这台新机器, 脑磁图显示机, 它可以让我们做到这个。 它看上去就像来自火星的吹风机。 但它是完全安全的, 完全对人无害,而且是静音的。 我们的要求是 在空间上精确到毫米 时间上精确到毫秒 使用306 SQUIDs 即是超导 量子干涉磁量仪 用来检测 我们大脑变化的磁场。 我们是世界上第一个 记录婴儿 在脑磁图显示机下的 学习的脑图。

  So this is little Emma. She's a six-monther. And she's listening to various languages in the earphones that are in her ears. You can see, she can move around. We're tracking her head with little pellets in a cap, so she's free to move completely unconstrained.

  所以这是小爱玛 她有6个月大。 她正通过耳机 聆听多种语言 大家可以看到,她可以移动。 我们用她帽子上的小球 来记录她的脑图 所以她完全不受束缚地自由地移动。

  It's a technical tour de force. What are we seeing? We're seeing the baby brain. As the baby hears a word in her language the auditory areas light up, and then subsequently areas surrounding it that we think are related to coherence, getting the brain coordinated with its different areas, and causality, one brain area causing another to activate.

  这是一个技术上的杰作。 我看到什么了? 我们看到婴儿的大脑。 当婴儿听到语言中的一个词 大脑中听觉区域亮起来, 然后在它周围的其它区域也亮起来 我们认为这是有关联贯性的 让大脑和其他不同脑区域相协调, 一前一后, 一片脑区域激活另一片脑区域。

  We are embarking on a grand and golden age of knowledge about child's brain development. We're going to be able to see a child's brain as they experience an emotion, as they learn to speak and read, as they solve a math problem, as they have an idea. And we're going to be able to invent brain-based interventions for children who have difficulty learning.

  我们开启了 一个开发儿童大脑知识的 宏伟的黄金年代。 我们能够观察他们的大脑 当儿童体验到感情, 学着说和读, 解决一个数学问题, 或当他们有个想法的时候 我们也能为学习有障碍的孩童 发明基于脑的治疗方法。

  Just as the poets and writers described, we're going to be able to see, I think, that wondrous openness, utter and complete openness, of the mind of a child. In investigating the child's brain, we're going to uncover deep truths about what it means to be human, and in the process, we may be able to help keep our own minds open to learning for our entire lives.

  正如诗人和作家所描述的, 我想我们能够看到 一种奇妙的融通开放, 一个孩子心智的 完全开放 在对儿童大脑的研究中, 我们会深刻揭示 这对人类来说意味着什么的事实, 在这一过程中, 我们或许能帮助我们自身开放心智 在我们一生中不断地学习。

  Thank you.

  谢谢。


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