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Genie The Wild Child

             Do people learn language from their environment or are they born with an innate ability to speak? Can people learn a language at any time in their lives or must they learn to speak when they are young? Genie seemed to present them with a "natural experiment" for answering these questions, because she had heard almost no words in her life. They were also able to test something important to science and society: that a nurturing environment could make up for even the most nightmarish of pasts. At the children's hospital Genie's doctors gathered information on her brain waves. They wired Genie to instruments that measured the electrical activity in her brain while she slept. What they found was an unusually high number of sleep spindles This was an abnormal brain wave pattern. The sleep studies raised a question: Was Genie brain damaged from her years of abuse, or had she been retarded from birth? On psychological tests that measure mental age, every year after she had been found, her mental age increased one year. The experiment of Dual relationships was also tested could the two roles, scientist and therapist, be combined in one person.
             Genie was kept in almost complete isolation for her entire life. She was restrained to a potty chair and kept in an empty room that had no stimulation. When Genie emerged from seclusion she had many "Inhuman Characteristics". She had a hard time walking. She would walked hunched over and she would stumble a lot. She could not straighten her arms or legs.
             Her language was slow and hard to understand. She could say only very few words. Mostly Genie grunted a lot and often used gestures. Genie also looked as though she was only about six when in fact she was thirteen. Genie constantly spat and had a hard time chewing.
             For most individuals the development of language comes naturally as a they grow from an infant to childhood. Noam Chomsky believes that language is genetically pre-programmed by a language acquisition device in the brain.

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