Maestro – Tufts Magazine

A new artificial intelligence system designed at Tufts has made it faster and easier to learn to play the piano. Is it the future of education? 

Illustration by Gaby D’Allesandro

In a fourth-floor Tufts lab, a computer program was in the process of convincing a student that she was actually interacting with a human. It was spring 2015, and the student had come to the lab for a study involving a new way of teaching people to play the piano.

Yuksel and Oleson call their AI system Brain Automated Chorales, or BACh. It’s the first AI system to collect brain data and use that information to adapt a task for learners in real time. “It’s a huge deal,” said H. Chad Lane, an educational psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who studies intelligent technologies for learning. “No one has really successfully integrated neuroscience into interactive digital learning very well yet.”

With BACh’s flexibility, it becomes possible to envision brain-based AI tutoring systems that students could use in daily life—while doing homework, for example.

Read the full story in Tufts Magazine.

From autism to Chinese, a headset to help you with your language – New Scientist

Adrian Weinbrecht/plain picture

Learning a tonal language like Chinese is notoriously difficult–it’s easy to end up calling your mother a horse. But soon there could be a wearable headset that can help. The system was created for people with autism who want help with social interactions, but it could be adapted to help with speech or anxiety problems–or even language learning, says LouAnne Boyd at the University of California at Irvine, part of the team that designed it.

Lost first languages leave impressions in the brain

Credit Scott Sherrill-Mix, flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

Like a footprint in wet concrete, the first language a baby hears makes an impression that lasts for years, regardless of what follows. Later, children even as old as ten who are adopted or immigrate can completely forget their first language. But even if they do not consciously remember their mother tongue, their brains retain its traces, according to a study published this week in PNAS, led by Lara Pierce of McGill University.

Read the full article in Scope.

Kids want good answers to their questions

Credit: Willie Nordmann, flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

If you’ve ever been around a preschooler, you’re familiar with their incessant questions. It can be tempting to brush them off with a “Because I said so,” but new research shows that can hurt your credibility.

Five-year-olds and even three-year-olds can tell the difference between poor explanations and those that provide new information.

Read the full article in Scope.