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Functional brain outcomes of L2 speech learning emerge during sensorimotor transformation

Carey, D; Miquel, ME; Evans, BG; Adank, P; McGettigan, C; (2017) Functional brain outcomes of L2 speech learning emerge during sensorimotor transformation. Neuroimage , 159 pp. 18-31. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.06.053. Green open access

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Abstract

Sensorimotor transformation (ST) may be a critical process in mapping perceived speech input onto non-native (L2) phonemes, in support of subsequent speech production. Yet, little is known concerning the role of ST with respect to L2 speech, particularly where learned L2 phones (e.g., vowels) must be produced in more complex lexical contexts (e.g., multi-syllabic words). Here, we charted the behavioral and neural outcomes of producing trained L2 vowels at word level, using a speech imitation paradigm and functional MRI. We asked whether participants would be able to faithfully imitate trained L2 vowels when they occurred in non-words of varying complexity (one or three syllables). Moreover, we related individual differences in imitation success during training to BOLD activation during ST (i.e., pre-imitation listening), and during later imitation. We predicted that superior temporal and peri-Sylvian speech regions would show increased activation as a function of item complexity and non-nativeness of vowels, during ST. We further anticipated that pre-scan acoustic learning performance would predict BOLD activation for non-native (vs. native) speech during ST and imitation. We found individual differences in imitation success for training on the non-native vowel tokens in isolation; these were preserved in a subsequent task, during imitation of mono- and trisyllabic words containing those vowels. fMRI data revealed a widespread network involved in ST, modulated by both vowel nativeness and utterance complexity: superior temporal activation increased monotonically with complexity, showing greater activation for non-native than native vowels when presented in isolation and in trisyllables, but not in monosyllables. Individual differences analyses showed that learning versus lack of improvement on the non-native vowel during pre-scan training predicted increased ST activation for non-native compared with native items, at insular cortex, pre-SMA/SMA, and cerebellum. Our results hold implications for the importance of ST as a process underlying successful imitation of non-native speech.

Type: Article
Title: Functional brain outcomes of L2 speech learning emerge during sensorimotor transformation
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.06.053
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.06.053
Language: English
Additional information: © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Generalization, L2 learning, Sensorimotor transformation (ST), Speech, fMRI
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1559970
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