Link between music and speech rhythm in brain could provide language insight

When a piece of music is played at the wrong tempo it is difficult to recognise because our brain uses rhythm to help make sense of sounds. Image credit - flickr/ Brian Richardson, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Neuroscientist Dr Domenica Bueti often plays an altered version of the classic aria La donna è mobile when she gives talks about the importance of time perception. Her friend’s piano rendition of Giuseppe Verdi’s composition uses the same notes but is played at different speeds. Rarely does anyone ever identify the tune. ‘When I play it with … Read more

Why do people discriminate against speakers with foreign accents?

Eric Bridiers, for U.S. Mission. CC BY-ND 2.0

Listening to someone speaking with a foreign accent makes human brains work harder which can lead to unintentional discrimination against people communicating in languages other than their own, new research suggests. But exposure to foreign accents can also change the way people speak, and over time, the ensuing accents can become new languages. While most … Read more

Claims that bilingualism keeps brains young could be ‘wishful thinking’

Image credit - Pexels, licensed under CC0

By Vittoria D’Alessio Speaking two languages is a highly valuable skill but is an unlikely defence against age-related cognitive decline as previously thought, according to new research on ageing and bilingualism. Scientists from the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University in the Netherlands have been studying how bilingualism might protect against … Read more

The internet is helping to revive minority languages

Image credit - CC0

Europe’s minority languages have been squeezed by nation-building, urbanisation and the ‘lingua francas’ of the internet, according to Professor Anneli Sarhimaa, specialist in Northern European and Baltic languages and cultures at the University of Mainz, Germany. But one lesson she has learned from researching the fate of the Finnic language Karelian, spoken in Finland and north-western Russia, … Read more