Your PE teacher may be a master of Chinese

“Your Chinese was taught by a physical education teacher, right?” This Internet catchphrase is familiar to everyone. This kind of expression seems to be a joke, but it actually implies satire and devaluation of physical education teachers and physical education workers. Now, scientific research proves that the irony implied in this sentence is actually a misunderstanding.

IQ includes abilities in numbers, space, logic, language, creativity, memory, etc. The language level can indeed partially reflect the level of a person’s IQ. A recent study published in the American “Science” magazine showed that the ability to use hands or tools is closely related to language proficiency. The better one is at using tools, the better at using syntax and understanding semantics. Therefore, people who are good at sports and people who are good at sports, especially those who are good at using sports tools and equipment, will have strong language skills after learning in general cultural classes.

A joint study by researchers from the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, the French National Centre for Scientific Research, the University of Lyon and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found that both language ability and the ability to use tools depend on being located in the same brain region the same nerve cells and networks. Moreover, motor training using tools can improve people’s ability to understand and use complex sentences, while language training can also improve people’s proficiency in using tools.

In 2019, a joint research team from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and the French National Center for Scientific Research found that people who are particularly good at using tools generally have better semantic expressions when using Swedish, and are especially good at handling grammatical details. In addition, studies have shown that brain regions that control certain language functions, such as understanding and expressing word meaning, are also involved in the control of fine motor skills, but there is no direct evidence from brain imaging or other direct evidence that the two are necessarily linked. However, research in the field of neurobiology has shown that language-related brain regions increased in the brains of human ancestors as tools were invented and used. This suggests that the use of tools also contributes to language development.

To demonstrate the positive relationship between tool use and language ability, researchers at the aforementioned institutions conducted observational studies of experimental participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and behavioral measures. Participants were divided into 3 groups, one using the tool and the other two being the control group. All participants were asked to complete a number of tests, including exercise training with 30-centimeter-long forceps and a grammar comprehension task in French, but the specific tasks were slightly different. During these activities, the researchers were able to observe the active regions of the participants’ brains and brain-specific neural networks, and thus were able to identify the brain neural networks shared by the two tasks.

First, the tool-using group was asked to perform a grammar comprehension task before and after a 30-minute exercise session with forceps; the tool-using task was to use pliers to insert small pegs into holes that matched their shape but in a different orientation. Syntactic exercises done before and after athletic training include reading sentences with simple syntax, such as “an article written by a scientist who adores poets,” or reading slightly more complex sentences with varying modifiers. Two control groups were also asked to complete the same task, the first control group did not use tools; the second control group neither performed exercise training nor used tools. The study found that behavioral and grammatical comprehension tasks using tools produced brain activity in the same parts of nerve cells in the basal ganglia region of the brain.

In general, sentences with the pronoun “que” in an object relation in French are more difficult to understand, so people generally have poorer comprehension and scores. However, experimental results showed that after exercise training with forceps, participants performed better in understanding and processing those more complex sentences. In contrast, a control group that inserted a small peg into the hole by hand without a tool showed no improvement in language ability in comprehension and processing of complex sentences after exercise training. Likewise, participants who did not engage in exercise training and inserted nails into holes with their hands did not improve their language skills in understanding and processing complex sentences.

In comparison, people who used tools and completed motor training scored higher on the grammar comprehension task and had stronger comprehension. In addition, the study also found that people who improved their language skills through language training also improved their ability to use forceps (i.e. motor or behavioral skills). The researchers believe that in the basal ganglia of the brain, movement (especially the movement of tools) has the same neural command area as language ability, which constitutes the basis for the joint improvement of tool use ability and language ability.

From the results of this study, it can be further deduced that in the training of almost all sports, the relationship between motor ability and language ability can be found. Even the simplest track and field events that don’t use tools in competition, such as distance running and sprinting, require the use of equipment and aids in training. For example, when Chinese sprinter Su Bingtian trains basic strength, there are barbell high cleans, weightlifting, weight-bearing (backing sandbags) walking, jumping, and partial muscle resistance exercises; technical training uses small hurdles and running training to practice correct ankles Support and reaction action. These exercises require the use of tools and equipment.

Soccer players must practice touching, controlling, dribbling, and passing the ball, all of which are the control and use of the tool of the sport – the ball. More complicated is ice hockey, which not only requires good skating skills, fast speed, and strong shifting ability, but also requires hand control of the club and the ball with the club, but also to avoid collisions. These are all strengthening training for the brain, nerves and muscles. Part of the brain center that controls these movements is in the basal ganglia, a brain region that also controls part of language abilities (the other part of the language function area is the language center in the cerebral cortex). Therefore, sports training can also improve the language ability of athletes, and their language ability will not be worse than the average person, or even better. Of course, the premise is that they also need to learn cultural lessons.

A recent study published in the journal Nature by researchers at New York University sheds new light on how motor and intellectual skills interact and improve motor and cognitive performance. Cognitive training, which focuses on important things and ignores distractions, may enhance the brain’s information-processing abilities, allowing the body to learn how to learn, scientists have found in a study of mice.

The above research results and the practice of sports practitioners show that it is indeed “taken for granted” to satirize people with “Is your Chinese taught by a physical education teacher?” This kind of cultural phenomenon that is not supported by scientific evidence can be widely circulated, which can only explain the limitations of human cognition.

The above research results not only reveal the crudeness of social and cultural phenomena such as “Chinese is taught by physical education teachers”, but also have clinical and professional significance. The clinical significance is that while strengthening language practice for people who have lost part of their language ability due to disability or aging, they also allow them to practice using tools to stimulate and restore the function of the basal ganglia, thereby improving language ability. The professional significance is that in the process of cultivating athletes, they are not only required to carry out professional training, but also to study in cultural classes, so as to improve their language ability, they can also improve their sports performance.

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