科学美国人60秒：Piano Lessons Tune Up Language Skills
燕山大学 刘立军 编写
Musicians are said to have better language skills. And scientific studies have backed that up. But it's not clear why that might be the case.
Now a study of 74 Chinese kindergartners suggests six months of piano lessons can heighten the brain's response to changes in pitch. And kids who got piano lessons were also better at telling apart two similar-sounding Mandarin words, which contained different consonants, than were students who got extra reading training, or who went through regular kindergarten.
The results are in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Now Mandarin is a tonal language - the famous example is the word 'ma' which can mean mother or horse depending on its pitch. So might musical training translate better to Mandarin, than, say, English?
"Yeah it's possible that influenced the results." Robert Desimone, a neuroscientist at the McGovern Institute at MIT. But he says other studies do back up the fact that music lessons benefit language learners, even in countries without tonal languages. "And what our study added on top of that was some idea of the neural basis for those benefits."
And if you don't own a piano, don't despair. The reading group actually did just as good on many measures as the piano group. "Reading's pretty good actually. We don't mean to downplay reading instruction."
More important, he says, was to show piano wasn't actually worse than reading for these skills… perhaps encouraging cash-strapped schools to keep their music programs alive.
Adapted from https://www.chinavoa.com/
1. say v. 比如说; 比方说 You can use say or let's say when you mention something as an example. 例如：
To see the problem here more clearly, let's look at a different biological system, say, an acorn. 为更清晰地理解此处的问题，我们来看一种不同的生物系统，比如说，橡
Someone with, say, between 300 and 500 acres could be losing thousands of pounds a year.
比方说，拥有 300 到 500 英亩地的人，可能每年会损失几千英镑。
2. downplay v. to make people think that sth. is less important than it really is 对…轻描淡写；使轻视；贬低。 play down 例如：The coach is downplaying the team's poor performance. 教练对这个队的拙劣表现不以为然。
3. cash-strapped adj. without enough money 资金短缺的。例如：cash-strapped governments / shoppers缺资金的政府；缺钱的购物者
Listen to the news and choose the best answer to each question you hear.
Q1. Why could piano lessons tune up language skills?
A. They can heighten the brain's response to changes in pitch.
B. They can lessen the brain's response to changes in pitch.
C. They can encourage students to learn the changes in pitch.
D. They can discourage students to learn the changes in pitch.
Q2. What can tune up language skills, according to the news?
A. Piano lessons.
B. Reading instruction.
C. Reading and writing instruction.
D. Piano lessons and reading instruction.
Q1: A. 细节题。命题出处：Now a study of 74 Chinese kindergartners suggests six months of piano lessons can heighten the brain's response to changes in pitch.
Q2: D. 推断题。命题出处：And if you don't own a piano, don't despair. The reading group actually did just as good on many measures as the piano group. "Reading's pretty good actually. We don't mean to downplay reading instruction."