Brain activation and lexical learning: The impact of learning phase and word type

Centre de Recherche de l'Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Montréal, Canada.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.13). 10/2009; 49(3):2850-61. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.10.007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study investigated the neural correlates of second-language lexical acquisition in terms of learning phase and word type. Ten French-speaking participants learned 80 Spanish words-40 cognates, 40 non-cognates-by means of a computer program. The learning process included the early learning phase, which comprised 5 days, and the consolidation phase, which lasted 2 weeks. After each phase, participants performed an overt naming task during an er-fMRI scan. Naming accuracy was better for cognates during the early learning phase only. However, cognates were named faster than non-cognates during both phases. The early learning phase was characterized by activations in the left iFG and Broca's area, which were associated with effortful lexical retrieval and phonological processing, respectively. Further, the activation in the left ACC and DLPFC suggested that monitoring may be involved during the early phases of lexical learning. During the consolidation phase, the activation in the left premotor cortex, the right supramarginal gyrus and the cerebellum indicated that articulatory planning may contribute to the consolidation of second-language phonetic representations. No dissociation between word type and learning phase could be supported. However, a Fisher r-to-z test showed that successful cognate retrieval was associated with activations in Broca's area, which could reflect the adaptation of known L1 phonological sequences. Moreover, successful retrieval of non-cognates was associated with activity in the anterior-medial left fusiform and right posterior cingulate cortices, suggesting that their successful retrieval may rely upon the access to semantic and lexical information, and even on the greater likelihood of errors.

Download full-text


Available from: Daniel Adrover-Roig, Jun 19, 2015
1 Follower
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Within the field of neuroscientific research on second language learning, considerable attention has been devoted to functional and recently also structural changes related to second language acquisition. The present literature review summarizes studies that investigated structural changes related to bilingualism. Furthermore, as recent evidence has suggested that native-like exposure to a second language (i.e., a naturalistic learning setting or immersion) considerably impacts second language learning, all findings are reflected with respect to the learning environment. Aggregating the existing evidence, we conclude that structural changes in left inferior frontal and inferior parietal regions have been observed in studies on cortical gray matter changes, while the anterior parts of the corpus callosum have been repeatedly found to reflect bilingualism in studies on white matter (WM) connectivity. Regarding the learning environment, no cortical alterations can be attributed specifically to naturalistic or classroom learning. With regard to WM changes, one might tentatively propose that changes in IFOF and SLF are possibly more prominently observed in studies investigating bilinguals with a naturalistic learning experience. However, future studies are needed to replicate and strengthen the existing evidence and to directly test the impact of naturalistic exposure on structural brain plasticity.
    Frontiers in Psychology 10/2014; 5:1116. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01116 · 2.80 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine the cognitive control mechanisms in adult English speaking monolinguals compared to early sequential Spanish-English bilinguals during the initial stages of novel word learning. Functional magnetic resonance imaging during a lexico-semantic task after only two hours of exposure to novel German vocabulary flashcards showed that monolinguals activated a broader set of cortical control regions associated with higher-level cognitive processes, including the supplementary motor area (SMA), anterior cingulate (ACC), and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), as well as the caudate, implicated in cognitive control of language. However, bilinguals recruited a more localized subcortical network that included the putamen, associated more with motor control of language. These results suggest that experience managing multiple languages may differentiate the learning strategy and subsequent neural mechanisms of cognitive control used by bilinguals compared to monolinguals in the early stages of novel word learning.
    NeuroImage 11/2012; 67. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.11.018 · 6.13 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: White matter plays an important role in various domains of cognitive function. While disruptions in white matter are known to affect many domains of behavior and cognition, the ability to acquire grammatical regularities has been mostly linked to the left hemisphere, perhaps due to its dependence on linguistic stimuli. The role of white matter in the right hemisphere in grammar acquisition is yet unknown. Here we show for the first time that in the domain of pitch, intact white matter connectivity in right-hemisphere analogs of language areas is important for grammar learning. A pitch-based artificial grammar learning task was conducted on subjects who also underwent diffusion tensor imaging. Probabilistic tractography using seed regions of interest in the right inferior frontal gyrus and right middle temporal gyrus showed positive correlations between tract volume and learning performance. Furthermore, significant correlations were observed between learning performance and FA in white matter underlying the supramarginal gyrus, corresponding to the right temporal-parietal junction of the arcuate fasciculus. The control task of recognition did not correlate with tract volume or FA, and control tracts in the left hemisphere did not correlate with behavioral performance. Results show that the right ventral arcuate fasciculus is important in pitch-based artificial grammar learning, and that brain structures subserving learning may be tied to the hemisphere that processes the stimulus more generally.
    NeuroImage 03/2011; 55(2):500-7. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.12.022 · 6.13 Impact Factor