w/o music

Human infants have special cognitive abilities that are built for exactly this cultural variation. For example, in the realm of vowel sounds, infants of just 6 months have been shown to restructure their auditory space according to the local language; the space becomes systematically and irreversibly distorted, so that sounds that are acoustically equidistant will now become assigned to the same or different categories along language-specific lines. The end result is a range of spectacular biases in our auditory perception, which make adults unable to even hear the difference between sounds that are fundamentally distinct in some other language. Thus the initial perception system ends up systematically skewed. Exposure to a specific language rebuilds our perceptual acuities, and it does so at such an early age that it seems inescapable that the system is built for handling diversity.

This example may serve as a token of the special kind of cognitive ability that is required for a culture-bearing species. In this case the infant needs to know in advance that speech sounds are important. It needs to presume that there are significant local categories to be discerned using complex statistical pattern matching, and then it needs to learn to ignore some sound distinctions while acquiring heightened perception of others, thus distorting acoustic space in line with the input.

Stephen C. Levinson, Introduction: The Evolution of Culture in a Microcosm, Levinson and Jaisson (eds), Evolution and Culture, 2005, 14-15.

~ od olifAnt na 26 maja, 2010.

3 reagovanja to “w/o music”

  1. ovo sam vec negde cula/procitala, a najverovatnije si mi ti pricala u vezi sa decom koja uce kineski vs srpski npr. da li zato on ne umeju da kazu L?

  2. Sedim ja jutros u pla sest u fotelji i hranim polubudnog Sinka Binka i odjednom pomislim: e, pa ja sam napisala L, a u stvari je trebalo da napisem R!

  3. …. pa i trebalo je da napises L a ne R 🙂
    tako da je sve u redu opusti se ….. nema potrebe za sikiracijom u pola 6 😀

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