The sound of perfect words

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We sit in a circle. Next to me I have a man around fourty, who works as a computer engineer. He learnt Italian for the first time many years ago. He then put it aside after buying a dictionary, and decided to learn it again when the course started this semester. Next to him is an old woman, impressing us when we start an excercise about ordering food. She wants a “lasagna senza carne”, a sentence she didn`t get from the book, but must have learnt by her own. Her blond curls nods with her, happy as she is when we give her positive feedback. There are several others, one journalist who has travelled a lot to Italia and will go to Rome again this spring. Two ladies who knew each other before, and who talk with each other in a comfortable familiarity. A women that drives for one hour, and still takes the time to pick up a friend after we end the course at 21.15. A married man who always smiles with his eyes. A modest women with short hair with lively expressions, never hiding behind a mask of correct expressions. And our italian teacher, a portuguese women who always dress nicely. Today with a white silk blouse and stylish shoes (I never fail to notice people shoes, as I become addicted to beauty in all forms) A lovely group, that always enter the room with “buongiorno” at their lips, and “buena notte” when we leave.

To learn something new, together with others, is one of life`s wonders.

Sleep tight, my wonderful readers.

last ned

Finding ‘lost’ languages in the brain

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Finding ‘lost’ languages in the brain


An infant’s mother tongue creates neural patterns that the unconscious brain retains years later even if the child totally stops using the language, (as can happen in cases of international adoption) according to a new joint study by scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro and McGill University’s Department of Psychology. The study offers the first neural evidence that traces of the “lost” language remain in the brain.

“The infant brain forms representations of language sounds, but we wanted to see whether the brain maintains these representations later in life even if the person is no longer exposed to the language,” says Lara Pierce, a doctoral candidate at McGill University and first author on the paper. Her work is jointly supervised by Dr. Denise Klein at The Neuro and Dr. Fred Genesee in the Department of Psychology. The article, “Mapping the unconscious maintenance of a lost first language,” is in the November 17 edition of scientific journal Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The Neuro conducted and analyzed functional MRI scans of 48 girls between nine and 17 years old who were recruited from the Montreal area through the Department of Psychology. One group was born and raised unilingual in a French-speaking family. The second group had Chinese-speaking children adopted as infants who later became unilingual French speaking with no conscious recollection of Chinese. The third group were fluently bilingual in Chinese and French.

Scans were taken while the three groups listened to the same Chinese language sounds.

“It astounded us that the brain activation pattern of the adopted Chinese who ‘lost’ or totally discontinued the language matched the one for those who continued speaking Chinese since birth. The neural representations supporting this pattern could only have been acquired during the first months of life,” says Ms. Pierce. “This pattern completely differed from the first group of unilingual French speakers.”

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The study suggests that early-acquired information is not only maintained in the brain, but unconsciously influences brain processing for years, perhaps for life – potentially indicating a special status for information acquired during optimal periods of development. This could counter arguments not only within the field of language acquisition, but across domains, that neural representations are overwritten or lost from the brain over time.

The implications of this finding are far reaching, and open the door for questions relating both to the re-learning of an early acquired, but forgotten, language or skill, as well as the unconscious influence of early experiences on later developmental outcomes.

Maybe this can explain some of the problems children from abusive homes, can have. Even if they don`t remember what happened, the body still keeps the score decades later.

The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture, the G.W. Stairs Foundation and the Centre for Research on Brain Language and Mind.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Lara J. Pierce, Denise Klein, Jen-Kai Chen, Audrey Delcenserie, and Fred Genesee. Mapping the unconscious maintenance of a lost first language.PNAS, November 17, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1409411111

The original article 

The sound of my laughter

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Some say I have a strange sense of humor. And I guess I have, but maybe somebody else also find this one funny ? I think its hilarious, since I really find Danish people hard to understand (Even if the two languages Danish and Norwegian in reality have many features in common).


Hand gestures could make kids smarter

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Hand Gestures Could Make Kids Smarter
By Maia Szalavitz

Using hand gestures may be important for more than just making a point; they could help children to learn.

In research published in the journal Developmental Psychology, preschoolers and kindergartners who naturally gestured to indicate what they were trying to do showed more self control, an ability associated with cognitive maturity.

The scientists came to this conclusion after testing children for their ability to sort objects according to changing criteria. Even adults have difficulty switching from one set of instructions to another, since the brain automates some aspects of learning to optimize efficiency. Once something is learned, however, it’s a challenge to unlearn and inhibit the reflexive response. That’s why it helps to develop good habits early — whether it’s a golf swing or eating a healthy diet. It’s easier to learn something correctly the first time than it is to unlearn ineffective techniques and relearn better ones.

In the experiment, 41 kids aged 2 to 6 had to place cards in trays. In one round, the tots first had to sort pictures of blue rabbits or red boats by color and then were asked to sort them by the object’s shape, regardless of color. In another game, they had to distinguish pictures of large or small yellow bears either by size or by whether teddy was right side up or sideways.

MORE: Self-Disciplined People Are Happier (and Not as Deprived as You Think)

During the task, some of the children instinctively used gestures — making rabbit ears when they knew shape mattered, or moving their palms from facing up to turning sideways when they were sorting by the teddy bear’s orientation — to guide themselves.

“Our study shows that young children’s gesturing can help them think,” says the study’s lead author Patricia Miller, professor of psychology at San Francisco State University. What’s more, she found that this effect had a stronger effect on successful performance than age — a powerful finding given that children’s skills improve rapidly with age during this stage of development.

“It’s not just what’s going on inside the head that’s linked with how kids learn and perform, but how they express it with their body that matters, too.” says Sian Beilock, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To, who was not associated with the study.

The toddlers’ gestures could be interpreted as a glimpse of their brains at work, as they figure out how to exert the cognitive control necessary to complete their tasks. But were the gestures simply a marker for a higher level of intelligence? To find out, Miller and her team asked the toddlers to explain what they were doing, an ability strongly tied to verbal skills. It turned out that the children’s ability to correctly verbalize their reasoning did not predict their success as well as gesturing did. Gestures also increased in the few tasks just after the criteria shifted, making them more difficult, which also supports the idea that gesturing itself was helpful.

The research is only the latest to explore how movement of the body is fundamental to the way in which the mind works. Earlier work showed that older children were better able to learn math if taught to use gestures while doing so. And they often found the right answer physically — for example, by making movements to signify the numbers that needed to be kept together to add correctly — before finding it verbally. Miller’s own research found improvements in math performance, which requires improved mental control, among overweight kids after they became more physically active.

That has implications for improving the way we communicate and think, and could help to address developmental disorders associated with cognitive control issues, such as autism. “In some ways, motor behavior might be ahead of our conscious verbal behavior,” says Miller, “It may be pulling development along.”

MORE: Control Yourself! Inhibiting Physical Action Cuts Risky Gambling and Drinking

If that’s true, using gestures to improve self-control could also help to manage addictive behaviors. One study found that simply teaching people to inhibit actions (in this case, refraining from pressing a computer key that they were previously trained to press) before seeing images related to gambling reduced the number of risky bets they placed. Another study found a 30% drop in drinking among Dutch students who hadn’t even been trying to cut down, after they performed a task in which they restrained themselves from pressing keys when seeing images of beer. These findings suggest that simply making gestures involved with refusing or controlling behavior could help to change it. (The same process may enhance behaviors as well; heavy marijuana users who pulled images of pot “closer” to them on a computer screen smoked more following the exercise.)

“There’s a close connection between mind and body,” Miller says. Abstract thought, in fact, typically requires grounding in concrete, physical metaphors.

“This research suggests that not only do our thoughts affect our bodies, but our bodies can affect how we decide, what we think and how we learn,” says Beilock. So when it comes to learning, children may need to use their hands as well as their brains.

Maia Szalavitz @maiasz
Maia Szalavitz is a neuroscience journalist for TIME.com and co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential — and Endangered.


My daily chinese lesson

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I’m trying to learn one Chinese word/sentence every day, and had to share today’s challenge:

The greatest human relations principle is to treat other people like you want to be treated待人如待己(dài rén rú dài jǐ)

Friendship requires many qualities— generosity, genuine care to the others, and the ability to listen when the other person needs to talk, to name a few. When you show respect for your friends and gratitude for their friendship, you’ll be treated as a friend. When someone isn’t treating you fair, instead of holding grudge, have compassion for he who treats you unjust as this person maybe going through tough times in his life. A kind word or a gentle, understanding smile may help the person feel better and change his attitude.


The sound of the door bell waking me up

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This is already a wonderful day, even if I was torn out of sleep by kids ex exercising their finger muscles on my door bell. I tried to hide in the shadow as I opened because of my frankenstein’s face mask, but by their swift disappearance, I’m not sure I managed. They brought a present; My snow-White mate for life, little Amadeus. He’s been naughty as usual, but wasnt away for long this time, and that wasnt to bad either, since I had a visitor yesterday.

Today I’m going to Bergen together with Helene. The anticipation is brimming: I will see my psycholgy Friends, my sister, my best friend and a lot of other Friends, and will in addition to that play boardgames, maybe Even Resistance, which is the best social game ever made that I know of! I have also done a lot lately, for example met a lot of warm and inspiring psychologist, organized things for my group (am now planning a hike to a cabin) and read about mentalization. I’ve had the best chatts, and talked a lot with an amazing guy. Can’t believe my luck, it was worth fighting away the hurt, rejection and dissapointment that lingered from the bad choices I made. I feel free, and will devour every bit of life with vigor. I have so many good things now: Wonderful and caring friends in many cities, a great family, the best job where I help the nicest people find their inner beauty, all the things I need, and my Italian course, that produce goose-bumps when I discover yet another beautiful word that gives my ear another reason to listen to magic.

Remember this: even if everything is as bad as it can be, you will get the price in the end. Or like my mother said; Nothing is so bad that it can’t be fixed. I believe that, and if you don’t, listen to my and others stories, and don’t forget you’ve felt good before.





My norwegian blog

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This week`s been really busy, so I did not get the chance to update my blog here. Will try to start on my third part of the narrative, soon. I can just tell you, very briefly, that my ex-boyfriend survived the storm. He was safer than I thought, but while nature showed its scary face, I did not know that. I woke after a nightmare at 4.30 in the morning, checked my email with a pounding hearth, and felt relief ripping through me, when I saw everything was okay.

For people who want to see pictures, or who can read norwegian, I have updated my Norwegian blog: La vita e bella. The name stems from my love to the Italian language and culture, its a celebration of the good in life, and I am much more optimistic in that one, than in this, which is much more honest and true than my Norwegian counterpart.

So: Here it is! If you have any questions, feel free to ask 🙂


This week I got the chance to sing for the choir Surround. I was nervous, and did a lot of mistakes, but she liked me and I am most probably in 😀 This is the one of the songs I choose



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