The morse code reception could be, I believe, an object of perception research. It may open the door for understanding how human brain perceives and understands the meaning of auditory stimuli.
The morse code is simple in structure which may help to be investigated by modern scientific approach. On the other hand, the code as a tool of communication reflects or binds the linguistic meaning, that makes it complicated.
Anyway, modern progress in functional study of brain function may give us a horizen in this field. Though I am not a specialist in this field at all, I have found a few, if not many, research papers concerning this subject.
As a CW enthusiast, it is interesting to know how code reception is achieved and how to improve it efficiently in a morse code learner. In the era when morse code was widely used in military as well as commercial facilities, possibly in '50s or '60s, a lot of studies have been made regarding this point as mass studies. The recent researchs with modern technologies might give us much clearer and more definite hints or solutions for those questions.
Here are a couple of paper abstracts related with this subject, even though the methodologies featured are rather traditional. I would like to introduce more with modern methods later.
The following paper says that the morse code training should be started with easy parts/tasks. It seems they conducted this research with classical psychological method.
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J Exp Psychol Appl. 2001 Jun;7(2):129-42.
Retention and transfer of morse code reception skill by novices: part-whole training.
SourceDepartment of Psychology, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
AbstractThe training of composite skills requiring differential responding to a large set of stimuli raises issues about how to break down the whole task into parts and which parts should be trained first. Components of Morse code reception skill were identified, separated, and used to test whether initial training on a difficult part was more effective than initial training on an easy part. Initial training on a difficult subset of stimuli and on a difficult subtask both yielded disadvantages rather than the advantage implied by recent findings with different tasks. Incremental training should begin with the part yielding the most effective strategic skills, which appear to depend on characteristics of the task. In both present experiments, easy initial training led to adoption of an effective unitization strategy for representing codes. The hypothesis that procedural reinstatement at delayed testing leads to better retention was supported and extended.
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This paper relates what amount of training is good in perceptual training. This auditory discrimination tasks are different from learning codes. But the result may parallel with training result of the morse code or may resemble it. Perceptual skills could be transfered from short-term memory to long one daily when the training protocol is within the limit of task specific requirement.
Exp Brain Res. 2007 Jul;180(4):727-36. Epub 2007 Feb 27.