London: The old saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks may not hold true for everyone. As more and more research has suggested, we never lose the ability to learn like a child.

A new study suggests that as adults, we actually lose confidence in our ability to learn as age and lack of time and self-esteem stand in the way of adults picking up new skills, a website reported.

Children are more open and unembarrassed while learning anything new.  As adults, it could be lacking the free time of childhood or getting hampered by our own perfectionism, or simply missing the self-esteem which could preventing us from becoming multilingual or mastering a musical instrument.

In a study at the University of Minnesota in the US, adults trying to master foreign accents progressed rapidly when given recordings that mimicked the exaggerated baby talk of cooing mothers.

In another study, adults, including aged between 60 and 80, turned better at juggling than children aged between five and 10.

Many researchers believe that adults’ busy lives get in the way of their education.

Ed Cooke, an Oxford University-educated scientist who has won many memory contests, said: "A child’s sole occupation is learning to speak and move around. If an adult had that kind of time to spend on attentive learning, I’d be very disappointed if they didn’t do a good job.’

New Scientist says that people would do better by quickly rotating through the different skills to be learnt, without lingering too long on each one.

It is thought that jumping from one thing to another makes the mind work harder and so helps retain knowledge in the long-term.

Adult learners may also benefit from stepping out of their comfort zone. Like someone learning scales on a musical instrument could occasionally switch hands.


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