Hey everyone. Thank you for joining us once again for our Office Hours. This is our third week Office Hours, and as you probably already know my name is Maya Green I'm here with Dr. [INAUDIBLE] Hernandez, and I guess we could just dive right in to some questions. >> Let's do it. >> So, the first thing that I wanted to talk to you about was actually a response to our week one video, where we talk about he idea, personality and language switching. So this person was bothered by the fact that we didn't talk about culture at all. So what do you think is the role of culture when we're talking about the study of personality and language. >> That's a good question. So if we think about cues and we think about culture as being a form of a cue, right, certain people, places, experiences. That occur, then we would expect that culture would lead to different feelings, and perhaps, different actions by us. Now, some of the questions sort of revolve around, is it language or culture, and so, I think we could set up an example. So, imagine someone who learns a second language in a classroom setting. In which the only place they learn it is in that classroom setting and there aren't really any other experiences associated with that besides learning in a classroom. In that case, you would expect that that person would not experience a different feeling or sets of you know, personality if you want to use that word, a different expression of how they are. Because it's been within a classroom setting, it's not associated with anything outside of the world, I mean it's outside of the world but it's just in the classroom. >> Mm-hm. >> The second that somebody starts to associate a language, if you will, with other experiences, other cultures, if you will, then you get cues that start to trigger certain types of memories. And we could also think about, if you in essence have the same language in different regional, different regions of a country. You could have different cultures within the same country. And the person may be speaking the same language, but they may act differently. Because the people in that region, and the experiences they've had in the past, trigger certain types of behaviors. So they're cues, and they get certain responses. So in that sense, even outside of, you know, in a single language, you could have differences in culture. Differences in experience that would trigger different behaviors. So the way I think about it is essentially extension of memory and cue related retrieval. They call it cue related retrieval. Things in the world that then lead us to have certain memories. >> Mm-hm. Right, well, I hope that helps clear things up a little bit. And I actually just wanted to mention to all of you guys at home, if you have comments about previous Office Hours by all means post them. We're really happy to address them. I just ask that you put them in the most recent discussion forum so even though this was a question about week one. This person posted it in week three, which just made it easier for me to find and see. So, if you do have comments about previous office hours, please post them in the most recent discussion and we'll try to address them. Right, so let's move on to some of the questions that we had from this week, specifically. The first one was the discussion about bilinguals, increased executive function in of dementia. These are studies that have been widely publicized and, and in the public eye a lot recently, what do you think about these findings? >> It's an interesting area of research I think we'll talk about it later in the course so I don't want to give away to much of what we're going to talk about later. But, essentially, I mean, there's, there seems to be some advantage to be bilingual over monolingual that's been documented. But we have to really think about, you know, what kinds of experiences in the world lead people to have differences in what's called executive function. And by executive function people could mean lots of different things, there's actually debate about what exactly executive function is, but we can think of a few examples of that. One would be switching where we're doing one thing, and then we switch to doing another thing. The other could be something like inhibition in which we actually stop doing one activity. So for example we have to ignore part of an activity for example in the US when you look at the green arrow to turn left versus the green light. Sometimes the green arrow becomes green and the light remains red, or vice versa. The arrow remains red and the light turns green. And so you have to attend to one stimulus and ignore the other. So if you're turning left, you just look at the arrow. If you're going straight, you look at the light. And so, you have to be able to stop, sometimes you'll get a green light, but a red arrow and you don't, you're not supposed to go then. Although most people kind of have that same [LAUGH] impetus to want to go. They're not supposed to go until the arrow turns green. So that's another form of executive function. There are many different types. The question we could ask is what influences executive function period. We know things like musical training influences it. We know that it could be partially genetic, by that there may be differences in genetic, in genotype that influence the ability to engage in executive types of function. There are differences in culture. There are some data suggesting that Asian cultures tend to people from Asian cultures tend to have better executive function than, than Western culture. again, that's data that suggests that, it's not work that we do. So there seems to be many different factors that could play a role. And so, bilingualism may be one of them. There's controversy about it in the adult literature, not so much in the child, and not so much in the older adult. But some controversy in the young adult. But again, and that we could argue that it has to do with age too. We know that roughly around age 20 to 25 may be the peak of the ability to use executive function, roughly. And then there seems to be a drop off over time. So age also plays a role. So, there are many different factors that play a role. The question is what role does bilingualism play? so, well, we'll talk more about that later, but it's an interesting question. >> Right, so we don't want to give away the ending yet. [LAUGH] >> Yeah. It's, it's complicated. But not yet. But you know, wen we get to that section, I'd be happy to answer more questions, more specific ones. >> All right, well, great. So let's move on to talk about accents. That was one of the big discussions this week. The idea that, accent is related to comprehension, so the relationship between production and comprehension. So let's just start off by asking what causes accents? Is it just the inability to move your mouth according to the way that you should, or is it a brain mechanism issue? What do you think? My sense is that the, so again there is a whole field devoted to communication sciences and disorders. That's not my field. I am not a phrenologist and I, and I you know, I am not a speech pathologist. So again, this is a little bit outside of my field. But my sense is from what I am, what I read and, and the people I have talked to is that. The base of lan, of language if you will, spoken language is speech. And as such, comprehension sort of plays the central role if you will in, in speech production. And, and you can see this because they can do a very simple experiments where they, they have people speak but they distort their voice so that they don't hear themselves correctly. And what you see is people have trouble speaking, when they hear, when their feedback, they don't hear themselves well. The feedback is, is, is, you know, distorted, and so their speech suffers. So this clearly shows that there's this feedback of hearing ourselves. And of listening to speech sounds that then plays a huge role in production. So if I wanted to say, one thing is that, you know, the primary cause, if I had to, sort of, put it down to a cause, because I think it's, it's multiple things, would be just the ability to hear the differences in the sounds. That, that's the base of what I would consider an accent. >> Mm. I see. >> That's the base. It's not the entire cause, just the base. >> Okay. And do you think that maybe teaching people the correct way to position their tongues and move their mouths would help them with their accents, and then with their comprehension? Well, you know, as soon as, so as soon, we could sort of start from the other as, if the, if the base is speech then anything we can do to try to get people hear the differences by exaggerating, so if it was the LR distinction for someone from Japan. You know, you could, then, there have been experiments to, you know, training sessions where they actually exaggerate. They'll deduct something like all versus er. So, it's really exaggerated, it's very elongated, and they even do it, you know, by computer to make it really, a big big R, and a big big L because the regular l and r. Aren't distinguishable so you have to exaggerate that contrast. So you could do that sort of try to create these categories that are not existent. They, they're one sound, they're just variations of one sound in Japanese. If you add on top of that then you have. This distinction. Then the question is, can you produce it? So you might be able- >> Mm-hm. >> To hear it, but can you actually, physically, make the movements to create that sound. And, you know, we could think about an analogy, you know, one simpler form of an analogy. You know, when you look at there's a whole industry of people you can just look up golf, golf swings tennis. There's a whole industry you know more of the adult sports not so much team sports but even team sports you can look up YouTube videos on how to throw a baseball. And they'll actually show you, or how to throw a football, and they'll show you step by step how to throw a football. And if you ask people, and I've had this experience where I tell them well how do you throw a football and they show it to me and I say that's not how you throw a football and they say oh, no, no that's how you throw a football. An American football that's what we're talking about, world football, international world's football, American world's football if you will. And if you ask people in the U.S. that, they'll show you a motion, and then you say, okay, now let me go to a video and show you what the motion looks like. And I'll show them physically how they have to throw a ball. And then I'll go to a video and show it to them, and they'll say, that's not the way you throw a football. And I said, yes, that's how you throw a baseball, too. And it turns out that's the way you serve a tennis ball, too. It's a very counter intuitive kind of motion. And people don't pickup on it. And they don't believe it. And actually when they do it they say no way. The ball would go the wrong way if I did that. But it doesn't. So the problem is people have an image in their mind of what they have to, what they have to do, physically. And that image doesn't correspond to what someone who is, I guess, expert on this case does. So the same thing with accent, right? There is an image in the mind of what my mouth has to do, but that doesn't correspond to what the mouth of someone who produces those sounds. As more nativelike if you will. Again you know, we have to ask ourselves how much can we get rid of an accent? How hard it is. But assuming that we can move closer in that direction we would have to be able to know exactly what that motor program feels like to us because we can't really. Abstractly think about it, we have to actually do it. It's a motor problem. So if I could somehow, you know, if I wanted to, I don't know you know, pick up on some distinction that I don't have, like a Korean, I think there's a T and D distinction that, that English speakers don't pick up on. and, and so if I wanted to do that, I would somehow have to, if I could, transport myself into a person who could do that physically and feel like what that feels like on my tongue. And if I could do that. Then I'm more likely to be able to actually do that myself once I was transported back into my own body. Right. This is science fiction. >> Laughter. >> But if I could somehow experience exactly how my tongue would move. How somebody else's tongue would move when they do that, I would have a better feeling about what I have to do. And then I would speak more clearly, but it would require this really feeling that difference. And so I think absolutely you would want to work on specific mouth movements and really observe the vocal apparatus. And that's something you can actually do much better than saying oh, it should be you know. R. It's like that's just a letter. Right? But the R, you know, doing that motion. It's not easy if we have done it before. But it's much more doable than thinking about producing a letter that's read. That, that you know, for our bodies, that doesn't mean anything. >> Uh-huh. >> And for our production, that's our bodies that we are doing. Well, hopefully, in the future we'll have some kind of language-teaching device that allows us to transport into someone else's body. That would be really great. >> There, there is accent training. I mean, some speech pathologists, they're not pathologists, they actually work on accent training. They work with actors or people who want to improve their accents, and so there is an industry to do that. I, I haven't really talked to them specifically but my feeling is that that's what they would do. They would actually physically get people to do things and have exercises. Much like you know, someone who plays piano to scales. Right. Nobody likes doing scales but they do it. It serves a purpose. And the case here you would do. Sort of speech motor training. >> Mm-hm. And actually from another thread someone asked whether you can rewire the brain by doing these kind of physiological exercises. >> So I, I'll keep it short' because I don't want the office hours to go too long today. >> Yeah. [LAUGH]. >> but, I would argue yes. And in fact, I would argue, I wouldn't argue, I think the literature argues that everything we experience rewires our brain. So every time we encounter, we remember something, we remember it differently. It's not exactly the same as the first time it happened. And so there's a constant rewiring. The thought used to be that. You know, basically the plasticity was really present you know, ability to adapt. The brain was very only present in childhood but now it turns out that changes can happen in adulthood and in older adulthood. So, it would rewire our brain but everything rewires up. >> Good. And do you think we have time for just one last very quick question? >> Sure. Sure. So someone asked about whether trilingual infants have a bias towards three languages in the same way that bilingual infants have a bias towards two languages. And so I think from that the question then becomes, are trilingual children different than, different from bilingual children in the same way that bilingual are different from monolinguals. I, my sense is that the jump from one to two is probably, I'm not trying to say the jump from two to three isn't different, it is, but the jump from one to two may be a bigger step than from two to three. But that being said, and we could discuss about whether that's true or not, but that being said, I think. The way I think about it is essentially if we, if we push back to how the brain deals with language, just one, >> Mm-hm. >> Let's not do two or three, right, essentially there's some, quite a few sort of researchers who argued that, essentially to create language what the brain has done is co-opted different types of functions, across different senses and motor programs to then create what is language. And that you know, it's, it's there's a fair amount of data suggesting that. We're not born with rules in our head. There are some people who, who still argue that that is the case. That we're born with grammatical rules in our head. And it's a controversial area. But there are also quite a number of people who argue that that is not plausible genetically. To have actual rules at birth. Rather, what happens is we take information from different modalities. We combine what we have to do, what we have to communicate, what we hear, what we produce, and then that becomes language. >> Mm-hm. >> So, from that perspective then, bilingualism. Language sort of is mediated by the rules of what our brain and our mind does across development. Therefore bilingualism and I think that's what I've argued in the course is that bilingualism is an extension that and that's why there are examples of all of these principles of position, proficiency, control outside of language and in one language. And so then the argument I would make is that trilingualism is an extension of that. It's an extension of the basic rules that apply to what humans do when they learn things across time. >> Mm-hm. >> And so in that case, we could argue is it different or not, that would depend on lots of different factors. The factors of proficiency, age of acquisition, and control. Those factors would play a role, and they may play a role differentially in trilingualism because maybe a trilingual child hears two languages at home as a child and then gets a third language at school or at daycare, and over time that third language becomes the formal language they're taught in and the home language is used less and less across time. And so, you might get this change in the use of language that would then play a role. But again, that would happen in bilinguals as well. So, my argument would be that it would be an extension of- >> Hm. >> The basic rules that apply to development. >> Okay. Well, I think that's all the time we have for today. So thank you guys for watching and thank you for taking these questions. Please do continue with your interesting discussions and interesting posts. And we'll see you next week.