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>And what can get done 'naturally', like speech patterns and social
>groupings based upon hierarchies, gets done, naturally.
>What we are capable of absorbing during our developmental years is still
>a studied matter, but those capabilities don't just hang up their coats
>and relax, although a good deal of the closet may be full.
In his book, A USER'S GUIDE TO THE BRAIN, John J. Ratey, M.D. says;
"Brain development in the fetus and baby occurs through a series of critical
periods, "windows of opportunity" when the connections for a function are
extremely receptive to input. Once the window closes, enural connections
are pruned down to the most efficient, according to how much they are used.
Then the battle is over: the closed eye and the deciphering of foreign
phonemes will never regain space in the brain. It is clear that it is
possible for adults to learn to speak a new language with little or no
accent, but it is also clear that they do not do this the way a baby does,
and instead use altogether different systems to learn. The adult systems
are not nearly as good as the baby ones...
"University of Chicago psychologist Janellen Huttenlocher has found that the
frequency with which normal parents speak to and around their child during
the child's second year significantly affects the size of the child's
vocabulary for the rest of his or her life. The more words a child hears
during this sensitive period, whether it's "cat" or "existentialism," the
stronger the basic language connections."
So it's not just a full closet that makes the difference in language
acquisition -- it's a restructuring of the brain at a certain age.
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