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Wired

Prof. Evelina Fedorenko is studying a woman whose brain does not have a left temporal lobe in an effort to understand how the brain regions thought to play a role in language learning and comprehension develop. “Because EG’s left temporal lobe is missing, Fedorenko’s team had a chance to answer an interesting question: are the temporal regions a prerequisite for setting up the frontal language areas?” writes Grace Browne for Wired. 

WBUR

Sculptor Matthew Angelo Harrison and artist Raymond Boisjoly will both have art installations on display at the MIT List Visual Arts Center this upcoming spring, reports Pamela Reynolds for WBUR. Reynolds notes that Boisjoly’s “latest work continues the artist’s practice of working with text, photography and images in consideration of how language, culture and ideas can be framed and transmitted.” Harrison, “has frozen union organizing artifacts into chunks of resin,” writes Reynolds. 

Inc.

Inc. columnist Justin Bariso spotlights the late Prof. Patrick Winston’s IAP course “How to Speak,” which was aimed at helping people improve their communications skills while also underscoring the important role engagement plays in becoming a better listener. Some people ask why [no laptops, no cellphones] is a rule of engagement," said Winston. "The answer is, we humans only have one language processor. And if your language processor is engaged ... you're distracted. And, worse yet, you distract all of the people around you. Studies have shown that."

Axios

Axios reporter Alison Snyder writes that a new study by MIT researchers demonstrates how AI algorithms could provide insight into the human brain’s processing abilities. The researchers found “Predicting the next word someone might say — like AI algorithms now do when you search the internet or text a friend — may be a key part of the human brain's ability to process language,” writes Snyder.

Scientific American

Using an integrative modeling technique, MIT researchers compared dozens of machine learning algorithms to brain scans as part of an effort to better understand how the brain processes language. The researchers found that “neural networks and computational science might, in fact, be critical tools in providing insight into the great mystery of how the brain processes information of all kinds,” writes Anna Blaustein for Scientific American.

Xinhuanet

MIT researchers have developed an AI-enabled machine known as DeepRole that can beat human players in an online multiplayer game where each player’s true motives and roles are kept secret from one another. This “is the first gaming bot that can win online multiplayer games in which the participants' team allegiances are initially unclear,” reports Xinhua.

BBC

The BBC’s Simon Calder speaks with Prof. Evelina Fedorenko about the brains of polyglots, or people who speak multiple languages. “People who already have proficiency in multiple languages, their language regions appear to be smaller,” says Fedorenko. “It becomes so that you don’t have to use as much brain tissue to do the task as well, so you become more efficient.”

BBC

The BBC’s Simon Calder speaks with Prof. Evelina Fedorenko about the brains of polyglots, or people who speak multiple languages. “People who already have proficiency in multiple languages, their language regions appear to be smaller,” says Fedorenko. “It becomes so that you don’t have to use as much brain tissue to do the task as well, so you become more efficient.”

Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed reporter Lindsay McKenzie writes that a new AI system developed by MIT researchers to summarize the findings of technical scientific papers could “be used in the near future to tackle a long-standing problem for scientists -- how to keep up with the latest research.”

Inside Science

Inside Science reporter Yuen Yiu writes that MIT researchers have developed a new AI system that can summarize scientific research papers filled with technical terms. Yiu writes that the system “is a dramatic improvement from current programs, and could help scientists or science writers sift through large numbers of papers for the ones that catch their interest.”

CNBC

CNBC contributor Tom Popomaronis highlights a study by MIT researchers that demonstrates how back-and-forth exchanges could help children develop stronger communications skills.  

New Scientist

A storytelling robot developed by MIT researchers could be used to help boost language skills in young children and could help prepare children for learning in school, report Donna Lu for New Scientist. “If a child doesn’t start kindergarten ready to learn, it is very difficult and very expensive for them to catch up,” explains Prof. Cynthia Breazeal.

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Adele Peters writes about Tarjimly, a non-profit MIT startup that connects refugees with a large network of volunteer language translators. The platform “has more than 8,000 translators who speak more than 90 languages, and can be used in nearly any situation where someone trying to help can’t communicate with someone in need,” Peters explains.

Xinhuanet

MIT researchers have developed a language translation model that operates without human annotations and guidance, reports Liangyu for Xinhua news agency. The system, which may enable computer-based translations of the thousands of languages spoken worldwide, is “a step toward one of the major goals of machine translation, which is fully unsupervised word alignment,” Liangyu explains.

The New Yorker

New Yorker contributor Judith Thurman visits the lab of Dr. Ev Fedorenko, an alumna and research affiliate at MIT, who is studying the science of language. Fedorenko explains that she is focused on exploring, “how do I get a thought from my mind into yours? We begin by asking how language fits into the broader architecture of the mind.”