A new study at the University of Oregon suggests that our brain is able to discern grammatical mistakes, even when we don’t consciously register them. This revelation can be very significant in devising new ways of learning a given language.
The researchers carried out a fairly complex experiment to reach this conclusion. A number of people were shown some 280 sentences, some of which were grammatically accurate while others were not. When displaying the sentences, an auditory tone was played.
In some cases, the tone was played before displaying the sentence while in other cases, it was played after the sentence was shown. When the tone was played after the sentence, the participants were able to correctly identify if the sentence contained any grammatical mistakes. This was true 89 percent of the time.
However, when the tone was played before the sentence, this distracted the participants and they weren’t able to identify most of the grammatically incorrect sentences.
But the most interesting part is that a study of the ERP response from the participants’ brains shows that regardless of when the tone was played, the brain was correctly able to identify the errors. In other words, even if the participant were distracted and unable to register grammatical error in some cases, the brain was working diligently and registering these errors.
This goes on to show that even if we consciously miss any grammatical mistakes, the brain is able to identify them. Researchers believe that this can be very helpful in finding more effective ways of teaching a language. According to them, rather than explicitly telling kids in early years to learn grammatical rules, an implicit teaching approach may prove far more fruitful.