RATS HAVE HEAD FOR
Researchers in Spain reported that animals, especially mammals ( nf^L^D), evolved some of the skills underlying the use and development of language long before language itself ever evolved.
It is the first time that an animal other than a human or monkey has been shown to have this skill.
For their study neuroscientist Juan Toro and his colleagues at Barcelona's Scientific Park tested 64 adult male rats.
They used Dutch and Japanese because these languages were used in earlier, similar tests, and because they are very different from one another in use of words, rhythm and structure.
The rats were trained to respond to either Dutch or Japanese using food as a reward. Then they were separated into four groups —one that heard each language spoken by a native, one that heard synthesized (
) speech, one that heard sentences read in either language by different speakers and a fourth that heard the languages played backwards. Rats rewarded for responding to Japanese did not respond
to Dutch and rats trained to recognize Dutch did not respond to spoken Japanese. The rats could not tell apart Japanese or Dutch played backwards.
Results showed that rats could discriminate natural sentences when uttered by a single speaker and not when uttered by different ones, nor could they distinguish the languages when spoken by different people. Human newborns have the same problem, although tamarins C ) can easily tell languages apart even when spoken by different people.
It was striking to find that rats can track certain information that seems to
be so important in language development in humans.
The study shows which abilities that humans use for language are shared with other animals, and which are uniquely human. Lt also suggests what sorts of evolutionary precursors ( fuJl ) language might have.
Choose the best answers to the following questions.
1.64 adult male rats have been tested
show that ______ .
A.rats can be trained to speak Japanese and Dutch
B.rats have some of the skills potential to the use and development of lanquaqe
C.rats are able to recognize a language when it is spoken by different people
D.rats can understand the words, rhythm and structure of a language
2.Dutch and Japanese are chosen to be the
test languages because ____ .
A.they were used in earlier, similar tests
B.some rats can recognize Dutch and some Japanese
C.Dutch and Japanese belong to different families of language and they were used earlier in similar tests
and Japanese have different words, rhythms and structure "
3.Rats were rewarded when they
A.could respond to either of the two languages
B.could respond to both Dutch and Japanese
C.could tell apart Japanese or Dutch played backwards
D.could discriminate natural sentences spoken by different speakers
4.The test results have shown us all of the
following EXCEPT __ .
A.rats can distinguish the languages spoken by a single speaker
B.rats share some of the abilities for language with human beings
C.rats can track certain information which seems to be important in language development in humans
D.rats can discriminate natural
sentences spoken by different
S. The sentence "Rats rewarded for responding to Japanese did not respond to Dutch and rats trained to recognize Dutch did not respond to spoken Japanese" is closest in meaning to "_____ ."
A.When rats were trained to respond
to one of the two languages, they
didn't respond to the other
B.When rats responded to Japanese,
they were rewarded. When rats
responded to Dutch, they were
C.Given good rewards and special
training, a rat could respond to
both Dutch and Japanese
D.For rats, responding to one
language is less difficult than to
Judge whether or not the following statements agree with the information given in the passage, and mark Y for YES, N for NO, or NG if information is not given in the passage.
1.The scientists used Dutch and Japanese as the test languages because of their unusual words, rhythm and structure.
Y N NG
2.Newly born babies have little trouble in distinguishing language spoken by different people.
Y N NG
3.When Dutch and Japanese were played backwards, rats could not tell them apart.
Y N NG
4.The study shows that some abilities for language are unique to human beings.
Y N NG
5.It is the first time scientists have conducted such an experiment to prove that some animals, other than humans or monkeys, have skills
underlying the use and development of language.
Y N NG