Researchers have found a promising new way to study how infants learn language, utilizing a video game narrated in an "alien language," according to the Acoustical Society of America.
A team consisting of members of the Carnegie Mellon and Stockholm universities designed a game narrated with distorted sound that, while unintelligible, accurately models the complexities of natural speech. The only instructions in the game came by way of this "alien" language.
The researchers put 49 adult players in front of this game, and say that within just two hours of play, most could reliably extract enough meaning from the speech to apply what they had heard and advance.
According to the researchers, this emulates how a baby hears and learns language more effectively than most methods.
"Traditionally, when we study adult learning in the lab, it’s nothing like how infants learn language," said Lori Holt, of Carnegie Mellon, who collaborated on the study. "This video game training builds a bridge between the two populations -- babies and adults -- by modeling for adults the challenge language learning poses to infants."
According to the American Institute of Physics, the study could be applied beyond studying infant learning, saying that it may have clinical applications in studying dyslexia as well.
The group will show its findings in a presentation called "Learning acoustically complex word-like units within a video game training paradigm" at an Acoustical Socity of America meeting on May 27. More information on the meeting is available at the ASA website