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fMRI evidence for the involvement of the procedural memory system in morphological processing of a second language

Pliatsikas, C., Johnstone, T. and Marinis, T. (2014) fMRI evidence for the involvement of the procedural memory system in morphological processing of a second language. PLoS ONE, 9 (5). e97298. ISSN 1932-6203

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097298

Abstract/Summary

Behavioural evidence suggests that English regular past tense forms are automatically decomposed into their stem and affix (played  = play+ed) based on an implicit linguistic rule, which does not apply to the idiosyncratically formed irregular forms (kept). Additionally, regular, but not irregular inflections, are thought to be processed through the procedural memory system (left inferior frontal gyrus, basal ganglia, cerebellum). It has been suggested that this distinction does not to apply to second language (L2) learners of English; however, this has not been tested at the brain level. This fMRI study used a masked-priming task with regular and irregular prime-target pairs (played-play/kept-keep) to investigate morphological processing in native and highly proficient late L2 English speakers. No between-groups differences were revealed. Compared to irregular pairs, regular pairs activated the pars opercularis, bilateral caudate nucleus and the right cerebellum, which are part of the procedural memory network and have been connected with the processing of morphologically complex forms. Our study is the first to provide evidence for native-like involvement of the procedural memory system in processing of regular past tense by late L2 learners of English.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Neuroscience
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:36473
Publisher:Public Library of Science

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