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Poster C67, Thursday, November 9, 10:00 – 11:15 am, Harborview and Loch Raven Ballrooms

Multi-voxel pattern analysis reveals the impact of language learning experience on the brain’s intrinsic functional connectivity

Xiaoqian Chai1, Shanna Kousaie1,2, Debra Titone2,3, Shari Baum2,4, Denise Klein1,2,5;1Neuropsychology/Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada, 2Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada, 3Department of Psychology, McGill University Montreal, QC, Canada, 4School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada, 5Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada

Previous evidence suggests functional and structural brain changes associated with acquiring a second language. Using resting-state fMRI, a few prior studies have shown that the age of L2 acquisition might be linked with different patterns of connectivity in the brain. These studies were based on a seed-driven connectivity approach, which relies on a priori regions of interests (seeds). Choice of the precise location of the seeds is often arbitrary, and slight shift in the seed location could lead to different patterns of connectivity. In the present study, we applied a whole-brain multi-voxel pattern approach to investigate the effect of L2 age of acquisition on whole-brain intrinsic functional connectivity. Twenty-three English monolinguals, 45 simultaneous English/French bilinguals who started learning both languages from birth, and 99 late bilinguals who acquired their L2 after the age of 5 were included in the analysis. All participants were between 18 and 40 years of age. For all voxels in the brain, we computed the pairwise connectivity pattern between each voxel and the rest of the brain (all other voxels) and reduced the dimensionality of this multi-voxel pattern with principal component analysis (PCA) maximizing the explained inter-subject variability in the resulting patterns using a lower number of spatial components; four components were kept. We then performed multivariate analyses looking at differences in connectivity related to L2 age of acquisition. Between the monolinguals and bilinguals, we found two clusters - the left anterior insula (-28, -20, -6), and the right putamen (16, 8, -6), with connectivity patterns which significantly differentiated the groups (cluster-level FDR-corrected p < .05; height threshold uncorrected p < .001). Post-hoc analyses were performed using these two areas as seeds in standard seed-to-voxel analyses and identified a number of connections between these seeds and other areas/clusters that showed differences between different language groups. Within the late bilingual group. the left anterior insula cluster (-26, 24, 2) connectivity was also associated with L2 age of acquisition. Our results provide further evidence for the important role of the left anterior insula in L2 learning and suggests earlier L2 learning leads to different connectivity patterns between the left IFG and a wide network of regions in the brain.

Topic Area: Multilingualism

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