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Learning language with the wrong neural scaffolding: the cost of neural commitment to sounds.

Finn AS, Hudson Kam CL, Ettlinger M, Vytlacil J, D'Esposito M - Front Syst Neurosci (2013)

Bottom Line: Learners of the distinct-sounds language, however, recruited the Superior Temporal Gyrus (STG) to a greater extent, which was coactive with the Inferior Frontal Gyrus (IFG).Across learners, recruitment of IFG (but not STG) predicted both learning success in tests conducted prior to the scan and grammatical judgment ability during the scan.Data suggest that adults' difficulty learning language, especially grammar, could be due, at least in part, to the neural commitments they have made to the lower level linguistic components of their native language.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California Berkeley, CA, USA ; Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA, USA.

ABSTRACT
Does tuning to one's native language explain the "sensitive period" for language learning? We explore the idea that tuning to (or becoming more selective for) the properties of one's native-language could result in being less open (or plastic) for tuning to the properties of a new language. To explore how this might lead to the sensitive period for grammar learning, we ask if tuning to an earlier-learned aspect of language (sound structure) has an impact on the neural representation of a later-learned aspect (grammar). English-speaking adults learned one of two miniature artificial languages (MALs) over 4 days in the lab. Compared to English, both languages had novel grammar, but only one was comprised of novel sounds. After learning a language, participants were scanned while judging the grammaticality of sentences. Judgments were performed for the newly learned language and English. Learners of the similar-sounds language recruited regions that overlapped more with English. Learners of the distinct-sounds language, however, recruited the Superior Temporal Gyrus (STG) to a greater extent, which was coactive with the Inferior Frontal Gyrus (IFG). Across learners, recruitment of IFG (but not STG) predicted both learning success in tests conducted prior to the scan and grammatical judgment ability during the scan. Data suggest that adults' difficulty learning language, especially grammar, could be due, at least in part, to the neural commitments they have made to the lower level linguistic components of their native language.

No MeSH data available.


Brain-Behavior Relationships. For all participants, learning (measured prior to entering the scanner) is significantly related to recruitment of the left IFG while processing the newly learned language (A), as is accuracy (percent correct; B) and discrimination sensitivity (d',C).
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Figure 5: Brain-Behavior Relationships. For all participants, learning (measured prior to entering the scanner) is significantly related to recruitment of the left IFG while processing the newly learned language (A), as is accuracy (percent correct; B) and discrimination sensitivity (d',C).

Mentions: For both EP and NEP learners left IFG activity is related to behavioral performance whereas activity in the STG and AG is not. That is, the magnitude of recruitment within the left IFG while processing the newly learned language (EP or NEP > implicit baseline) is correlated with learning (average of all tests collected prior to the scan, r = 0.488, p = 0.029; Figure 5A) and performance on grammaticality judgments for the newly learned language in the scanner (percent correct: r = 0.507, p = 0.027; Figure 5B6; and a trend toward a relationship with d′: r = 0.418, p = 0.075; Figure 5C). These relationships were not observed in the STG (learning: r = 0.096, p = 0.687; percent correct: r = −0.098, p = 0.691 d′: r = −0.103, p = 0.674) or AG (anterior: learning: r = 0.169, p = 0.687; percent correct: r = −0.004, p = 0.986 d′: r = −0.146, p = 0.552; posterior: learning: r = 0.037, p = 0.875; percent correct: r = −0.116, p = 0.637 d′: r = −0.249, p = 0.304)7. Interestingly, this relationship between learning and performance in the IFG appears to be specific to the newly learned language (the MAL). The same relationship is not observed in the left IFG for making grammaticality judgments in English while processing English (percent correct: r = 0.155, p = 0.525; d′: r = 0.286, p = 0.235; reaction time: r = 0.194, p = 0.427). This was also true of the left STG (percent correct: r = −0.155, p = 0.525; d′: r = −0.137, p = 0.576; reaction time: r = −0.073, p = 0.766), left AGa (percent correct: r = −0.058, p = 0.815; d′: r = −0.122, p = 0.619; reaction time: r = 0.418, p = 0.075), and left AGp (percent correct: r = −0.134, p = 0.586; d′: r = −0.123, p = 0.615; reaction time: r = 0.434, p = 0.063). It is likely that such a brain-behavior relationship (with English) is not detectable when the language is well-established (due to ceiling effects and a lack of variability) and might be more detectable earlier in the learning process, as is observed in these data for MAL learners.


Learning language with the wrong neural scaffolding: the cost of neural commitment to sounds.

Finn AS, Hudson Kam CL, Ettlinger M, Vytlacil J, D'Esposito M - Front Syst Neurosci (2013)

Brain-Behavior Relationships. For all participants, learning (measured prior to entering the scanner) is significantly related to recruitment of the left IFG while processing the newly learned language (A), as is accuracy (percent correct; B) and discrimination sensitivity (d',C).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3824091&req=5

Figure 5: Brain-Behavior Relationships. For all participants, learning (measured prior to entering the scanner) is significantly related to recruitment of the left IFG while processing the newly learned language (A), as is accuracy (percent correct; B) and discrimination sensitivity (d',C).
Mentions: For both EP and NEP learners left IFG activity is related to behavioral performance whereas activity in the STG and AG is not. That is, the magnitude of recruitment within the left IFG while processing the newly learned language (EP or NEP > implicit baseline) is correlated with learning (average of all tests collected prior to the scan, r = 0.488, p = 0.029; Figure 5A) and performance on grammaticality judgments for the newly learned language in the scanner (percent correct: r = 0.507, p = 0.027; Figure 5B6; and a trend toward a relationship with d′: r = 0.418, p = 0.075; Figure 5C). These relationships were not observed in the STG (learning: r = 0.096, p = 0.687; percent correct: r = −0.098, p = 0.691 d′: r = −0.103, p = 0.674) or AG (anterior: learning: r = 0.169, p = 0.687; percent correct: r = −0.004, p = 0.986 d′: r = −0.146, p = 0.552; posterior: learning: r = 0.037, p = 0.875; percent correct: r = −0.116, p = 0.637 d′: r = −0.249, p = 0.304)7. Interestingly, this relationship between learning and performance in the IFG appears to be specific to the newly learned language (the MAL). The same relationship is not observed in the left IFG for making grammaticality judgments in English while processing English (percent correct: r = 0.155, p = 0.525; d′: r = 0.286, p = 0.235; reaction time: r = 0.194, p = 0.427). This was also true of the left STG (percent correct: r = −0.155, p = 0.525; d′: r = −0.137, p = 0.576; reaction time: r = −0.073, p = 0.766), left AGa (percent correct: r = −0.058, p = 0.815; d′: r = −0.122, p = 0.619; reaction time: r = 0.418, p = 0.075), and left AGp (percent correct: r = −0.134, p = 0.586; d′: r = −0.123, p = 0.615; reaction time: r = 0.434, p = 0.063). It is likely that such a brain-behavior relationship (with English) is not detectable when the language is well-established (due to ceiling effects and a lack of variability) and might be more detectable earlier in the learning process, as is observed in these data for MAL learners.

Bottom Line: Learners of the distinct-sounds language, however, recruited the Superior Temporal Gyrus (STG) to a greater extent, which was coactive with the Inferior Frontal Gyrus (IFG).Across learners, recruitment of IFG (but not STG) predicted both learning success in tests conducted prior to the scan and grammatical judgment ability during the scan.Data suggest that adults' difficulty learning language, especially grammar, could be due, at least in part, to the neural commitments they have made to the lower level linguistic components of their native language.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California Berkeley, CA, USA ; Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA, USA.

ABSTRACT
Does tuning to one's native language explain the "sensitive period" for language learning? We explore the idea that tuning to (or becoming more selective for) the properties of one's native-language could result in being less open (or plastic) for tuning to the properties of a new language. To explore how this might lead to the sensitive period for grammar learning, we ask if tuning to an earlier-learned aspect of language (sound structure) has an impact on the neural representation of a later-learned aspect (grammar). English-speaking adults learned one of two miniature artificial languages (MALs) over 4 days in the lab. Compared to English, both languages had novel grammar, but only one was comprised of novel sounds. After learning a language, participants were scanned while judging the grammaticality of sentences. Judgments were performed for the newly learned language and English. Learners of the similar-sounds language recruited regions that overlapped more with English. Learners of the distinct-sounds language, however, recruited the Superior Temporal Gyrus (STG) to a greater extent, which was coactive with the Inferior Frontal Gyrus (IFG). Across learners, recruitment of IFG (but not STG) predicted both learning success in tests conducted prior to the scan and grammatical judgment ability during the scan. Data suggest that adults' difficulty learning language, especially grammar, could be due, at least in part, to the neural commitments they have made to the lower level linguistic components of their native language.

No MeSH data available.