A new study, conducted by researchers at the University of California San Francisco and the University of Pittsburgh, has suggested the potential of vagus nerve-stimulating earbuds to accelerate the ability of adults to learn languages and recognize foreign language tones." This is considered to be a "notorious challenge" for English speakers.
The study tested the ability of subjects to identify Mandarin's four "tones" which consist of important pitch changes that help distinguish between otherwise identical sounding words. When being conditioned by the nerve-stimulating earbuds, researchers found that performance was overall improved by 13 percent. In addition, the experience helped learners to reach twice as quickly what is considered "peak performance" at identifying those tones.
According to the researchers, the potential application of such a device extends beyond language learning.
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