Easier way for adults to learn a language?

languagesAuditory Learning refers to learning through hearing and speaking. It is widely believed that children are very skilled at auditory learning, especially in areas of language and music. Another common belief is that as we grow older, our auditory learning capabilities diminish – yet another “plus” of getting older, right?

Researchers recently found that there may be a way to encourage our brains to get back to the child-like openness and ability to learn things via auditory learning – things like a new language. Based on studies done in mice, they do this not by enhancing something in the brain, but rather by inhibiting a “blocker” or inhibitory.  In the brain adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter – it typically acts as a central nervous system depressant.

One last piece of medical lexicon: the auditory thalamus is a part of the brain which helps learning ability in mice similarly to how children learn via auditory means.   So, putting all of this together, the research showed that reducing or blocking adenosine, mice were able to respond and “learn” much more easily, distinguishing between tones and remembering tones and sounds much longer. In short, it rejuvenated auditory learning.

Researchers have started looking at ways to apply these results towards adult auditory learning.  It should be noted that the knowledge of adenosine or the chemicals used to inhibit it are not new.  They have been part of medical research for various conditions for a long time.  What is new is the possible application towards improved auditory learning in people.

So, maybe one day we will pop a pill or take a dose, immerse ourselves in a French language book and wake up the next day fluently understanding French, right!?  Not so fast, of course this research is in its infancy, plus it may help accelerate the way and pace we learn another language, but does not eliminate the need for some of the hard work involved, the need to understand grammar and context and everything else that goes towards fluency of a language.  Sorry no magic pill… yet.


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