Cortical thickness of Broca's area and right homologue is related to grammar learning aptitude and pitch discrimination proficiency

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T1 - Cortical thickness of Broca's area and right homologue is related to grammar learning aptitude and pitch discrimination proficiency

AU - Novén, Mikael

AU - Schremm, Andrea

AU - Nilsson, Markus

AU - Horne, Merle

AU - Roll, Mikael

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - Aptitude for and proficiency in acquiring new languages varies in the human population but their neural bases are largely unknown. We investigated the influence of cortical thickness on language learning predictors measured by the LLAMA tests and a pitch-change discrimination test. The LLAMA tests are first language-independent assessments of language learning aptitude for vocabulary, phonetic working memory, sound-symbol correspondence (not used in this study), and grammatical inferencing. Pitch perception proficiency is known to predict aptitude for learning new phonology. Results show a correlation between scores in a grammatical meaning-inferencing aptitude test and cortical thickness of Broca's area (r(30) = 0.65, p = 0.0202) and other frontal areas (r(30) = 0.66, p = 0.0137). Further, a correlation was found between proficiency in discriminating pitch-change direction and cortical thickness of the right Broca homologue (r(30) = 0.57, p = 0.0006). However, no correlations were found for aptitude for vocabulary learning or phonetic working memory. Results contribute to locating cortical regions important for language-learning aptitude.

AB - Aptitude for and proficiency in acquiring new languages varies in the human population but their neural bases are largely unknown. We investigated the influence of cortical thickness on language learning predictors measured by the LLAMA tests and a pitch-change discrimination test. The LLAMA tests are first language-independent assessments of language learning aptitude for vocabulary, phonetic working memory, sound-symbol correspondence (not used in this study), and grammatical inferencing. Pitch perception proficiency is known to predict aptitude for learning new phonology. Results show a correlation between scores in a grammatical meaning-inferencing aptitude test and cortical thickness of Broca's area (r(30) = 0.65, p = 0.0202) and other frontal areas (r(30) = 0.66, p = 0.0137). Further, a correlation was found between proficiency in discriminating pitch-change direction and cortical thickness of the right Broca homologue (r(30) = 0.57, p = 0.0006). However, no correlations were found for aptitude for vocabulary learning or phonetic working memory. Results contribute to locating cortical regions important for language-learning aptitude.

KW - Broca's area

KW - Cortical thickness

KW - Inferior frontal gyrus

KW - Language learning aptitude

U2 - 10.1016/j.bandl.2018.12.002

DO - 10.1016/j.bandl.2018.12.002

M3 - Article

VL - 188

SP - 42

EP - 47

JO - Brain and Language

T2 - Brain and Language

JF - Brain and Language

SN - 1090-2155

ER -