Thursday, May 10, 2012

The "Well . . . duh . . . " Factor: Emotion can shut down the brain!


Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
This is just too good to pass over. What a revelation! Researchers have made " . . . the surprising discovery [in bilinguals] that our brain shuts down . . . unconscious access to the native language when faced with a negative word such as war, discomfort, inconvenience, and unfortunate [in the L2]." The "primal" reptilian part of the brain responsible for this temporary shutting down of higher brain functions is probably depicted in the diagram to the left in light blue and yellow. (The Science Daily summary does not specify.) Furthermore, "We were extremely surprised by . . . a cancellation of the response to the negative words [as observed by fMRI, in the L1]." Can we then assume the converse, that positive words such as peace, comfort, convenience and fortunate in the L2 link up better? That apparently was not studied or at least not reported. What does this mean for pronunciation change? Simple, maybe. Stick with anchoring the felt sense of warm, fuzzy words and phrases only--for the time being. I'll stay with this for you. How did we ever teach anything before the advent of the fMRI? Well . . . duh . . . 

3 comments:

Angelina Van Dyke said...

So, no more "bad, nasty, dangerous and devastating"?

Bill Acton said...

Ouch! I'll have to think that one through! Angelina's comment relates to the fact that in one of the protocols we use those four words, spoken very rapidly, with compressed space between syllables to develop the felt sense of more "native like" clusters of syllables in spontaneous speaking. (We refer to it as compacting speech.) Since we are not trying to anchor the meaning of the words but instead a body-state of movement, the "fact" that the L1 brain may not be experiencing the negative affect as intensely, based on the research summarized in the blogpost, may not be all that "bad" a thing. The short name of the protocol is the "Rhythm Fight clud" (3 forms available Youtube.) If we actually begin to take this idea at all seriously, it could mean replacing a few other words we use as haptic markers in the EHIEP system as well!

Angelina Van Dyke said...

I thought it was more about the ying and yang of positive versus negative words (left and right brain?), since you do use "nice, easy, beautiful and fascinating" as well.

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