Decoding relates to the extraction of meaningful elements for the stimuli we receive. We decode through all of our senses, but we first have to learn the meaning of the code in order to extract or decode the information. For example, we touch things when we are infants and toddlers and realize that some things are pleasant and enjoyable to feel while others hurt us when we touch them. We may only know, initially, that one thing is fun to touch while another hurts us. Depending on the reactions of the adults in our environment, depending upon how many times we touch something and are hurt by what we feel, and depending upon what things we have available to touch relates to how rapidly we learn to associate the cues (the code) of the items that are enjoyable or positive to touch vs. those that are unpleasant or noxious or even harmful. Some children may have difficulties distinguishing the pleasant from the unpleasant, some adults react in ways that are incomprehensible for some children so the children never learn to make the positive vs. negative associations between the things to be touched. In some cases, the child does not have sufficient experiences to learn the cues to distinguish the things to be touched from the things to be avoided. There are many reasons a child may not learn what to touch and what is not to be touched.
This same type of learning occurs with sounds and listening. Children do not immediately know the relationship between the sounds they hear and the meanings for these sounds. They have to learn these relationships. As such, children have to learn the features of auditory messages that relate to specific factors within the code. Additionally, the code is the sounds of speech that exist within the childís environmental language. For example, there are sounds in English that do not exist in other languages, and there are sounds from other languages that do not exist in English. Just ask a native English speaking person to distinguish and produce the so-called French "r" or the German "ch" or the Spanish "b." In contrast, ask a native speaker of Japanese to produce an English "l" and "r" and distinguish between these two sounds. Here the problem is one of environment and experience. Imagine a child who is not exposed to the phonemes or speech sounds of "l" and "r" but hears the same auditory message whether the person speaking is saying an "l" or "r?" This child may not learn to distinguish or discriminate "l" from "r" without being taught how to distinguish the specific auditory features that differentiate these two sounds in English, if English is the language of use in the childís environment, especially at school.
So, letís take a look at the first simulation. This simulation is called Knowing the Code. It is an analogy to a child who has not learned to distinguish the features that represent the specific factors of the code that are represented in the message.
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