Implicit, abstract knowledge acquired through language experience can alter cortical processing of complex auditory signals. To isolate prelexical processing of linguistic tones (i.e., pitch variations that convey part of word meaning), a novel design was used in which hybrid stimuli were created by superimposing Thai tones onto Chinese syllables (tonal chimeras) and Chinese tones onto the same syllables (Chinese words). Native speakers of tone languages (Chinese, Thai) underwent fMRI scans as they judged tones from both stimulus sets. In a comparison of native vs. non-native tones, overlapping activity was identified in the left planum temporale (PT). In this area a double dissociation between language experience and neural representation of pitch occurred such that stronger activity was elicited in response to native as compared to non-native tones. This finding suggests that cortical processing of pitch information can be shaped by language experience and, moreover, that lateralized PT activation can be driven by top-down cognitive processing.
- Experience-dependent plasticity
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
- Planum temporale
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology