Language

Cognitive Daily

Category archives for Language

Does test-taking help students learn?

During my brief tenure as a high school teacher, one common suggestion I got from supportive colleagues was to “make your tests teaching tools.” “That’s often the only time you’ve really got your students’ attention,” they suggested, “so don’t neglect the opportunity to teach them something.” What they meant is that you shouldn’t use misleading…

When we are trying to understand what someone is saying, we rely a lot on the movement of their face. We pay attention to how their faces move, and that informs our understanding of what is said. The classic example of this is the McGurk effect, where the same sound accompanied by different facial movements…

Children follow a consistent pattern when they acquire language. Instead of learning the most common words first, they start by learning a disproportionate number of nouns. In the youngest talkers nouns form up to 60 percent of their vocabulary, compared to just 40 percent of the vocabulary of a typical 2 and a half year-old…

Imagine that, over the course of a conversation with a friend from work, she makes the following two statements: It’s possible that my brother will be coming into town tomorrow It’s possible that our boss knows about the affair you had with the intern (You might also have to imagine a more adventurous romantic life…

When Jim was about 13 months old, I happened to be enrolled in a graduate level developmental psychology class. Our big term paper assignment involved observing two children at different developmental stages. I decided it would be cool to do a “longitudinal study” of Jim’s language development over the course of the semester — my…

A study doesn’t have to be brand-new to be interesting. Consider the situation in 1992: It was known that adults are much better at distinguishing between sounds used in their own language compared to other languages. Take the R and L sounds in English. In Japanese, both of these sounds belong in the same category…

Do verbal metaphors affect what we see?

Take a look at this video (QuickTime required). The screen will turn white for 1/2 second. Then a word will appear for about 1.5 seconds. Pay attention to the particular shade of gray the word is printed in. Next, a strip of five different grey squares will appear. Which square matches the color of the…

When you have a conversation with someone, you’re doing a lot more than just interpreting the meaning of the words they say. You’re also trying to figure out what they intend to say and integrating that in to your understanding. You’re working together with them to decide whose turn it is to speak. Your accents…

Lights! Action! Kids!

This is a guest post by Laura Younger, one of Greta’s top student writers for Spring 2007. Take a look at these static images from a video clip. Can you tell what the person is doing? It might be hard to make it out from these still pictures, but when you see the same thing…

A continuation of our “greatest hits” from past Cognitive Daily postings: [originally posted on May 9, 2006] The Stroop Effect is one of the most-studied phenomena in psychology. The test is easy to administer, and works in a variety of contexts. The simplest way to see how it works is just to look the following…