A team of MIT researchers has developed the toughest tongue twister in the world, which may help better understand the brain, according to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Pad kid poured curd pulled cod” is the phrase to say 10 times fast, and according to an MIT researcher, it is so difficult that none of the test subjects in a US speech study could repeat it, while some just stopped talking completely.
The string of nonsense was created to investigate errors of speech and to shed light on the brain’s speech-planning processes, says Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel ’75, of MIT’s Research Lab of Electronics, adding that tongue twisters can teach us a lot about normal brain functions.
“If anyone can say this (phrase) 10 times quickly, they get a prize,” said Shattuck-Hufnagel, who presented the tricky phrase along with her research into “alternating repetitive tongue twisters” at the 166th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in San Francisco last week.
The team recorded volunteers speaking word combinations in two categories: simple lists of words, like “top cop” and full sentences of the same sounds with words inverted, like “the top cop saw a cop top.”
In the first group, they discovered the bulk of errors were where the “t” and “c” arrived nearly at the same time, coming out “tkop”. But the latter induced more errors where there was a delay between the two letters, with space for a vowel: “tah-kop.” That both kinds of errors occur for word lists and sentences suggests there is some overlap between the brain processes used to produce these two types of speech, Shattuck-Hufnagel says.
People have long been aware that some combination of sounds spoken too fast flubs the tongue.
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