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Human language is an extremely sophisticated communication system. How do we develop such exceptional skill? And what happens as we grow old?
Listening to learn: How do toddlers uncover what words mean?
Dr Kate Messenger (Psycholinguist and lecturer in developmental psychology, University of Warwick)
The rapidity and apparent ease with which children acquire a language belies the numerous challenges that language learning involves. For example, children not only have to discover words, they have to realise these words label things and figure out exactly what each individual word means. Learning verbs presents particular difficulties given the abstract, complex and momentary nature of the events that verbs describe. Here we will look at one explanation for how children overcome this feat and what this helps us to understand about the process of human language learning.
Using language with an ageing brain: How exercise can help you recall words
Dr Katrien Segaert (Lecturer in Psychology, University of Birmingham)
We call them tip-of-the-tongue moments: those times we can’t quite access a person’s name or word that we know we know. These are caused by a temporary disruption in the brain’s ability to access the word’s sound, while the meaning of the word is not lost from memory. Tip-of-the-tongue moments are common throughout life, but they become more frequent in older age. Are these episodes simply an inevitable part of growing older? Intriguingly, these tip-of-the-tongue moments are less likely in fitter older people than in less fit older people.
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