Tag: speech

Watch This: An Elephant That “Speaks” Korean

By Ashley P. Taylor | November 2, 2012 11:18 am

This video shows Koshik, a  22-year-old male Asian elephant, imitating Korean words by putting his trunk in his mouth to modulate his sound.  A study of Koshik’s vocalizations (he can imitate five words) appears in the latest issue of Current Biology The researchers hypothesize that spending seven of his formative years as the only elephant at Everland, a South Korean theme park, led Koshik to mimic the speech of the animals he did spend time with: humans.

There’s just one other well-known case of a “talking” elephant, Batyr, who lived in a Kazakhstan zoo, also isolated from others of his species. The researchers think that an attempt at social bonding  may also be the reason that other animals, ranging from parrots to mammals like Hoover, the talking seal, and beluga whales, mimic the sounds of human speech. Koshik probably doesn’t mean the words he says: His vocabulary consists of commands frequently given to him by trainers, but while he has learned to obey them, he doesn’t seem perturbed if the humans around him don’t comply with his orders, one researcher told told Wired Science.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World

What Did Australopithecines Sound Like? More "Duh" Than "Ugg"

By Valerie Ross | November 28, 2011 5:31 pm


Artist’s rendering of an Australopithecus afarensis

When archaeologists hear whispers of humanity’s past, it’s through the painstaking work of piecing together a story from artifacts and fossilized remains: The actual calls, grunts, and other sounds made by our evolutionary ancestors didn’t fossilize. But working backward from clues in ancient skeletons, Dutch researcher Bart de Boer has built plastic models of an early hominin‘s vocal tract—and, by running air through the models, recreated the sounds our ancestors may have made millions of years ago.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Human Origins, Physics & Math

People With Dyslexia Have Difficulty Not Just Reading Words, But Recognizing Voices

By Valerie Ross | August 3, 2011 2:53 pm

What’s the News: While most people think of dyslexia as primarily a problem with reading, people with dyslexia seem to have trouble processing the spoken language, as well. A new study published last week Science found that people with dyslexia have a harder time recognizing voices than other people do.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain

Singing Therapy Can Rewire Brains of Speech-Impaired Stroke Patients

By Smriti Rao | February 22, 2010 3:02 pm

brain-3If you can’t say it, then sing it! Experts researching patients who have lost their ability to speak after a stroke are now suggesting that they could be able to communicate with music using Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT). Using MIT, the scientists showed that patients who were earlier communicating only in mumbles and grunts could now learn to sing out basic phrases like “I am thirsty.”

The study was conducted by Harvard Medical School neurologist Gottfried Schlaug on 12 patients whose speech was impaired by strokes, and showed that patients who were taught to essentially sing their words improved their verbal abilities and maintained the improvement for up to a month after the end of the therapy [Wall Street Journal]. Schlaug presented these findings at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain

Found: The First Genetic Mutations That Cause Stuttering

By Smriti Rao | February 11, 2010 6:33 pm

mouth

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have discovered the first genes linked to stuttering — a complex of three mutated genes that may be responsible for one in every 11 stuttering cases, especially in people of Asian descent [Los Angeles Times]. Scientists have long suspected that stuttering has genetic roots, as it’s often seen in families and twins, but this is the first time they’ve identified genes linked to the problem.

Dennis Drayna, the geneticist who led the study, said he was shocked that two of the implicated genes were linked to rare, fatal metabolic disorders [USA Today], but noted that must stutterers don’t suffer from those disorders. Surprisingly, the genes that were altered in the stutterers are involved in removing metabolic waste from brain cells.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain
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