Sixth International Conference on Spoken Language Processing
(ICSLP 2000)

Beijing, China
October 16-20, 2000

Cortical Reorganization Associated with the Acquisition of Mandarin Tones by American Learners: An FMRI Study

Yue Wang (1), Joan A. Sereno (2), Allard Jongman (2), Joy Hirsch (3)

(1) Department of Linguistics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
(2) Linguistics Department, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA
(3) The Functional MRI Laboratory, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA

This study employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate cortical effects of learning Mandarin tones by native speakers of American English. Six American learners were scanned while listening to Mandarin tones. The learners then participated in a two-week Mandarin tone training program, after which they were scanned again. Regions of brain activation in the perception of tones before and after training were compared. Results showed significant cortical change in activation areas in the temporal-lobe languagesensitive regions (Wernicke’s area), and in the frontal-lobe language-sensitive regions (Broca’s area) in the left hemisphere, as well as the homologous areas in the right hemisphere. These results are discussed in terms of changing cortical representations in language learning.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Wang, Yue / Sereno, Joan A. / Jongman, Allard / Hirsch, Joy (2000): "Cortical reorganization associated with the acquisition of Mandarin tones by american learners: an FMRI study", In ICSLP-2000, vol.2, 511-514.