To hear how one speaker shortens the word
yesterday, visit www.sciencenews.org/yeshee
Practice. Dream. Improve. Repeat.
By Bruce Bower
People who have nap-time dreams
about a task they’ve just practiced get a
memory boost on the task upon awakening, Harvard researchers report online
April 22 in Current Biology.
Memory-fortifying brain processes
during sleep actually cause dreams,
the paper’s authors propose, as a structure called the hippocampus integrates
recently learned information.
That’s a “tempting speculation,” says
physiological psychologist Jan Born of
the University of Lübeck in Germany.
wha’m I sayin’?
Phonetic shortcuts in daily
speech often go unnoticed
By Rachel Ehrenberg
BALTIMORE — Talk may be cheap, but
that doesn’t keep people from budgeting
When casually conversing, people
routinely streamline their utterances
by dropping segments, syllables and
even whole words, researchers reported
April 20 at the spring meeting of the
Acoustical Society of America. Insights
into these conversational shortcuts
could improve foreign language instruction and help scientists design better
speech recognition programs, which are
typically attuned to carefully enunciated
words rather than everyday talk.
“Most of the speech we communicate
with is not careful speech at all,” said
Natasha Warner, director of the Doug-
lass Phonetics Lab at the University of
Arizona in Tucson. “You try and give this
stuff to a speech recognition program,
and it totally goes to pieces.”
To parse the spontaneous speech
of everyday life, Warner and her
colleagues had 13 undergraduate stu-
dents sit in a sound booth, each with a
recording microphone on one ear and a
telephone on the other. The research-
ers recorded the students having