Ever thought a pair of earbuds could teach a new language? These prototype “zap earbuds” use a language technology that could do just that.
Designed by students at the University of California, these prototype nerve zap earbuds tap your brain nerve such that it helps to help you learn a new language.
electrically stimulate a nerve ending in the wearer’s brain.
Matthew Leonard, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, in an interview with Digital Trends said, “I’ve always loved learning languages, but like most people, it’s something that I find incredibly challenging.
Over the last 15 years, my main work as a neuroscientist has been focused on understanding how the brain processes speech and language, including in bilinguals, who somehow manage to hold two or more languages in one brain.”
To understand the need of these special earbuds, an experiment was conducted in the science lab of of Bharath Chandra Sekaran, a renowned professor in the Communication Science & Disorders department, University of Pittsburgh. The experiment was carried out with the agenda of establishing a clear way of helping the learner learn a new lingo.
With a total 36 participants, the experiment began by giving each applicant a customised earmold consisting of Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) electrodes. VNS is generally a medical technique.
However, unlike the regular one, this VNS that was fitted on each participant was specifically designed to stimulate only a part of the vagus nerve which is reachable from the ear without any need of an invasive implant. The participants were also fitted with head-mounted electrodes for recording brain waves.
During the course of the experiment on Zap special earbuds, the participants were asked guess the sounds played by the researchers, which were mainly Mandarin.
Since Mandarin is the most challenging language to learn for the westerners, the participants were asked to press a button allotted to the sound they were hearing.
The zap special earbuds technology is highly effective, yet is not ready to be used by public at a mass level. However, the fact that such devices can be used in future hints towards a new, miraculous way of learning.
Zap special earbuds will, in future, also help users to overcome their weaknesses by making the learning procedure a lot smoother and comprehensible.