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Language Acquisition - Nature vs Nurture Cheat Sheet by

Language acquisition; nature vs nurture, animal communication, language and the brain and child language
and     meaning     mind     linguistics     nature     nurture

TUTORIAL QUESTIONS

1) The Wild Child:
What does the case of Genie tell us about the nature­-nu­rture debate?
2) How about PKU?
3) Can you think of anything which is 100% nature / nurture?

Genie: The Wild Child

How old was Genie when she was found?
13 Years and 7 months
Why was Genie isolated?
When she was a baby her father concluded that she was severely mentally retarded, a view which intens­ified as she got older, causing him to dislike her and withhold care and attention. At approx­imately the time she reached the age of 20 months he decided to keep her as socially isolated as possible, so from that time until she reached the age of 13 years and 7 months he kept her locked alone in a room.
What stimuli was Genie brought up with?
Her father kept Genie's room extremely dark, and the only stimuli available were the crib, the chair, curtains on each of the windows, three pieces of furniture, and two plastic rain jackets hanging on the wall; Resear­chers concluded that, if Genie vocalized or made any other noise, her father beat her with a large plank he kept in her room
What was the result of such an upbrin­ging?
Genie learned to make as little sound as possible and to otherwise give no outward expres­sions
How were Genie's motor, cognitive and social skill affected?
Genie's gross motor skills were extremely weak; she could neither stand up straight nor fully straighten any of her limbs, and had very little endurance. Her movements were very hesitant and unsteady and her charac­ter­istic "­bunny walk", in which she held her hands in front of her like claws while ambula­ting, suggested extreme difficulty with sensory processing and an inability to integrate visual and tactile inform­ation; Doctors found it extremely difficult to test or estimate Genie's mental age or any of her cogn­itive abilit­ies, but on two attempts they found Genie scored at the level of a 13-mon­th-­old; Genie's behavior was typically highly antiso­cial, and proved extremely difficult for others to control, lacked situat­ional awareness
What was abnormal about Genie's brain functions?
Genie's entire brain was phys­ically intact and Shurley's sleep-­studies found sleep patterns typical of a left-h­emi­sphere dominant person, leading scientists to believe she was most likely right-­han­ded. Based on their early tests, doctors suspected Genie's brain was extr­emely right-­hem­isphere domina­nt;
Reasons for Genie's right-­hem­isp­herical dominance despite being right handed
Bellugi and Klima believed that Genie had been developing as a typical right-­handed person until the time her father began isolating her. They attributed the imbalance between Genie's hemisp­heres to the fact that Genie's sensory input as a child was almost exclus­ively visual and tactile, stimul­ating functions which are predom­inantly controlled in the right hemisp­here of a right-­handed person, and although this input had been extremely minimal it was sufficient to cause their latera­liz­ation to the right hemisphere
How was Genie's progress with language acquis­ition?
Throughout testing, the size of Genie's voca­bulary and the speed with which she expanded it continued to outstrip all antici­pat­ions. By mid-1975 she could accurately name most objects she encoun­tered, and clearly knew more words than she regularly used. By contrast, Genie had far more diff­iculty with learning and using basic grammar. She clearly mastered certain principles of grammar, and her receptive compre­hension consis­tently remained signif­icantly ahead of her produc­tion, but the rate at which her grammar acquis­ition occurred was far slower than normal and resulted in an unusually large disparity between her vocabulary and grammar. In everyday conver­sations Genie typically spoke only in short utterances and incons­ist­ently used what grammar she knew, although her use of grammar remained signif­icantly better in imitation, and her conver­sat­ional competence markedly improved during her stay but remained very low, which the scientists found unsurp­rising and suggested provided evidence that the ability to engage in conver­sation was a separate skill from knowing langua­ge.
How else did Genie commun­icate?
In contrast to her linguistic abilities, Genie's nonverbal commun­ication continued to excel. She invented her own system of gestures and pantomimed certain words as she said them, and also acted out events which she could not express in language. To take full advantage of her nonverbal commun­ication abilities, in 1974 the Riglers arranged for her to learn a form of sign langua­ge.
What impact did Genie's case have on the critical period hypoth­esis?
Susan Curtiss argued that, even if humans possess the innate ability to acquire language, Genie demons­trated the necessity of early language stimul­ation in the left hemisp­here of the brain to start.S­ince Genie never fully acquired grammar, Curtiss submitted that Genie provided evidence for a weaker variation of the critical period hypothesis
The study of Genie's brain aided scientists in refining several existing hypotheses regarding brain latera­liz­ation, especially its effect on language. The disparity between Genie's linguistic abilities and her competence in other aspects of human develo­pment strongly suggested there was a separation of cognition and language acquisiti

Genie: The Wild Child

How old was Genie when she was found?
13 Years and 7 months
Why was Genie isolated?
When she was a baby her father concluded that she was severely mentally retarded, a view which intens­ified as she got older, causing him to dislike her and withhold care and attention. At approx­imately the time she reached the age of 20 months he decided to keep her as socially isolated as possible, so from that time until she reached the age of 13 years and 7 months he kept her locked alone in a room.
How was Genie brought up?
- Her father kept Genie's room extremely dark, and the only stimuli available were the crib, the chair, curtains on each of the windows, three pieces of furniture, and two plastic rain jackets hanging on the wall
 

Bulgaria's Abandoned Children

BULGARIA, Mogilino Instit­ute
- the highest number of physi­cally and mentally disabled children growing up in instit­utions in Europe,
- country of extremes
- at the Mogilino Institute, 75 physically and mentally disabled children resided,
- half the children have been abandoned by their parents
- many remain confined within the building
- staff handed over to only ONE worker, in charged of all 75 children for the next 12 hours

Didi
- arrived at Mogilino just before filming began. Her mother could no longer cope with her teenage daughter's autism at home, so she abandoned her to the institute.
- she was thrown into an enviro­­nment where she could not make any friends or continue with her education, because Mogilino is a place for the uneducable and those living here do not speak.
- Didi deteri­­orated rapidly and would rock back and forth relent­­le­ssly. She shut down - just like all the others around her.

INTE­RVE­NTION
INTERV­ENTION
- The Bulgarian government put Unicef in charge of finding new placements for all the children of Mogilino, with the plan that the institute will shut once every child has been re-housed.
- The problems were not all about poverty or money, but rather about having a good level of genuine care that transf­­ormed a miserable existence into a fulfilling one.
- "­­Their cognitive develo­­pment has changed at all levels (perce­­ption, attention, memory, and thinki­­ng)... they have become part of particular groups and spend more time playin­­g."­


after the interv­ention,
- Didi lives in a special boarding school for those with behavi­­oural and learning diffic­­ul­ties. She has wonderful carers and has made good friends.
- She goes to school every day and is top of her maths class.
- She makes her own clothes, goes to the shops to buy things she likes and visits museums and art galleries.
 

Isabelle: Language Depriv­ation and Neurop­las­ticity

Who was Isabelle?
Isabelle was born in 1932. She was an illegi­timate child and was kept in seclusion for this reason
What charac­ter­istics did Isabelle's mother have?
Her mother had developed normally up to the age of two years and then, as a result of an accident, had become deaf­-mute and had not been educated.
How old was Isabelle when she was found
6 Years and 6 months
How was Isabelle brought up?
mother and child spent their time together in a dark room with the blinds drawn, separated from the rest of the family. The parents of the mother did not permit her to leave the house alone
What was the result of such an upbrin­ging?
When her intell­igence was first tested at the age of six and a half, her mental age appeared to be about nineteen months. In place of normal speech, she made a croaking sound. As a result of lack of sunlight, fresh air, and proper nutrition, Isabelle had developed a rachitic condition that made locomotion virtually imposs­ible. This condition yielded to proper treatment, including surgery, and Isabelle learned to walk and move normal­ly.As a result of lack of sunlight, fresh air, and proper nutrition, Isabelle had developed a rachitic condition that made locomotion virtually imposs­ible. This condition yielded to proper treatment, including surgery, and Isabelle learned to walk and move normally. She also had apathetic behavior, which was later monitored and recovered in a ward flled with other children.
How was Isabelle's progress?
Eighteen months into her training her repertoire of words was estimated to be 1500–2500 words; she was also able to produce complex sentence struct­ures. Throughout her training she began to use correct inflec­tional morpho­logy, pronouns, and prepos­iti­ons.By means of intensive training and a stimul­ating enviro­nment, Isabelle improved so much that she was considered a child of normal intell­igence by the age of eight.
The "­cri­tical period of learni­ng" hypothesis states that for a must be exposed the language by a certain age to acquire language. It is said to be associated with a period of increased neurop­las­ticity. It is also thought to end around the onset of puberty.

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