Neuroscience with its impressive array of technologies continues to plumb the depths of the human brain and throw up fascinating new results, not all of which can be adequately explained through the Yoga psychology model, which relies on occult insights handed down by Yogis, both ancient and modern. In a recent TED talk, neuroscientist Patricia Kuhl described an intriguing anomaly that she and her colleagues uncovered while investigating the linguistic abilities of 6-10 month old babies, which we briefly discuss here.
According to the latest neuroscience research, babies at birth have a universal capacity to discern phonetic contrasts in all the world’s languages but between the critical period of 6-10 months, this capacity begins to decrease and after the first year, the infant is primed only to acquire the native language to which it has been exposed. The current reasoning is that this restriction occurs because during the critical period of 6-10 months, the brain becomes shaped by exposure to a specific language. While investigating this narrowing in perceptual of learning skills, Kuhl and her colleagues decide to expose 6-10 month old American babies to a second language (Mandarin or Spanish) and hit upon an anomaly. They discovered that the babies’ brains were indeed able to discern the root sounds of a second language but only if it was taught by a human tutor; if the same sounds were relayed through a video or audio feed, the babies failed to learn.
Why does a baby with rudimentary communication skills need a human being to learn another language? Neuroscientists may ascribe it to mirror neurons but is there a “spiritual” or non-reductionist explanation – something which relies on the deeper and occult model of consciousness? In the absence of any original spiritual insight, it is unwise to speculate but it is certainly tempting to do so! Maybe the answer to this anomaly lies in the variety of epistemic methods of consciousness enumerated under yoga psychology (For more, see the article on the Four epistemic methods of consciousness)
Under the model of Integral (yoga) psychology outlined by Sri Aurobindo, the quickest and most comprehensive form of knowledge acquisition is called “Knowledge by identity” where you identify with another person’s consciousness and absorb his/her knowledge instantly (i.e. like a video transmission). This form of knowledge is infinitely preferable to the conventional form of brain-driven cognitive learning exemplified in the sense-read-think-imagine-and-consolidate cycle. On one occasion, the Mother Mirra Alfassa had remarked that babies less than two years old are very conscious but they just don’t have the instrumentation to express themselves (Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 12, p 195). It is possible that babies at birth are innately endowed with “Knowledge by Identity” but as the brain develops, these intuitive abilities get shrouded by the incrustations of the growing intellect. This may be the reason why babies are able to discern sounds spoken by a human tutor (through conscious identification) but can’t do the same with an audio or video feed.
Whatever the elucidation to this anomaly, Patricia Kuhl‘s TED talk video is quite delightful to watch, because she seems to have a knack for conveying complicated science to a lay audience without indulging in unnecessary jargon.
Here is the video without further ado…
- The action of subliminal memory
- Memory transference in organ transplant recipients
- Embodied cognition in Yoga psychology
- Sleep disorders : somnambulism and somniloquy
- Explaining out-of-body and near-death experiences
- Similarity between Neurological and Yogic models of human memory
- Epistemology of perception
- The brain is not the mind as per Yoga psychology
- The existence of vital signs during sleep or coma
- Four epistemic methods of consciousness