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Reorganization of the Neurobiology of Language After Sentence Overlearning

Skipper, JI; Aliko, S; Brown, S; Jo, YJ; Lo, S; Molimpakis, E; Lametti, DR; (2021) Reorganization of the Neurobiology of Language After Sentence Overlearning. Cerebral Cortex 10.1093/cercor/bhab354. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

It is assumed that there are a static set of “language regions” in the brain. Yet, language comprehension engages regions well beyond these, and patients regularly produce familiar “formulaic” expressions when language regions are severely damaged. These suggest that the neurobiology of language is not fixed but varies with experiences, like the extent of word sequence learning. We hypothesized that perceiving overlearned sentences is supported by speech production and not putative language regions. Participants underwent 2 sessions of behavioral testing and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). During the intervening 15 days, they repeated 2 sentences 30 times each, twice a day. In both fMRI sessions, they “passively” listened to those sentences, novel sentences, and produced sentences. Behaviorally, evidence for overlearning included a 2.1-s decrease in reaction times to predict the final word in overlearned sentences. This corresponded to the recruitment of sensorimotor regions involved in sentence production, inactivation of temporal and inferior frontal regions involved in novel sentence listening, and a 45% change in global network organization. Thus, there was a profound whole-brain reorganization following sentence overlearning, out of “language” and into sensorimotor regions. The latter are generally preserved in aphasia and Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps explaining residual abilities with formulaic expressions in both.

Type: Article
Title: Reorganization of the Neurobiology of Language After Sentence Overlearning
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhab354
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhab354
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: brain, language learning, motor system, network organization, speech
UCL classification: UCL
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 > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135754
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