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Poster E59, Friday, November 10, 10:00 – 11:15 am, Harborview and Loch Raven Ballrooms

The perisylvian language network and language analytical abilities

Olga Kepinska1, Egbert A. J. F. Lakke1, Eleanor M. Dutton1, Johanneke Caspers1, Niels O. Schiller1;1Leiden University

Aiming at exploring the brain’s structural organisation underlying successful second language (L2) learning, we investigate the anatomy of the perisylvian language network in a group of healthy adults, consisting of participants with high (N = 22) and average (N = 20) language analytical abilities. The two groups were recruited on the basis of a language aptitude test (LLAMA, Meara 2005) administered to a large group of participants (N = 307). Utilising deterministic tractography, six tracts per participant (left and right long direct segment, left and right indirect anterior segment and left and right indirect posterior segment) were virtually dissected and measurements pertaining to their microstructural organisation were collected. Our results obtained by means of linear discriminant analysis pointed to mean diffusivity (MD) values of three tracts (right anterior, left long and left anterior segments) as best discriminating between the two groups. By far the highest coefficient was obtained for the MD values of the right anterior segment, pointing to the role of the right white matter fronto-parietal connectivity for superior language learning abilities. Lower MD values were obtained for the highly skilled learners in comparison with the moderately skilled ones. The results imply the importance of attentional processes and reasoning abilities for successful L2 acquisition, and support previous findings concerning right-hemispheric involvement in language learning.

Topic Area: Multilingualism

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