Poster A67, Thursday, August 16, 10:15 am – 12:00 pm, Room 2000AB

Neural Correlates of Spoken Word Processing in Korean-Chinese-English Trilinguals: An fMRI Study

Say Young Kim1, Fan Cao2;1Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea, 2Michigan State University, MI, USA

INTRODUCTION: Previous neuroimaging studies provided inconsistent evidence as for whether brain network of L2 is similar to or different from that of L1(e.g., Marian et al., 2007; Zhao et al., 2012). A recent study with Korean-Chinese-English trilinguals (Kim et al., 2016) suggests that the assimilation and accommodation pattern in bilingual reading network is influenced by language distance between L1 and L2. Using a visual rhyming judgment task, the results showed that the brain network involved in L2 reading is similar to the L1 network (assimilation) when the distance in orthographic transparency between L1 and L2 is small (Korean L1 and English L2), while the L2 network is significantly different from the L1 network (accommodation) when L2 is more opaque than L1 (Korean L1 and Chinese L2). However, in comparison to reading, there has been not many studies that focused on the similarity and differences between L1 and L2 during spoken word processing. The current study using Korean-Chinese-English trilinguals examined whether and how brain network involved in spoken word processing, in comparison to written word processing, is affected by language distance between L1 and L2 using an auditory rhyming task. METHOD: During functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning, Korean trilingual participants were asked to make an auditory rhyming judgment, where they had to indicate whether subsequently presented auditory word pairs rhyme (e.g., late-hate) or not (e.g., pint-mint). All the participants performed Korean rhyming (KK), English rhyming (KE), and Chinese rhyming (KC) tasks. The proficiency on English and Chinese in the Korean trilingual participants were matched. RESULTS & CONCLUSION: The results of the whole brain activation provided evidence of strong assimilation patterns regardless of two typologically different L2s (Chinese and English). KK showed greater activation in the bilateral STG than KC, and no region was greater for KC than KK. In addition, KK showed greater activation in the left STG and IFG than KE, and no region was greater for KE than KK. However, the subsequent ROI (at STG: -50, -28, 6) analyses revealed an L2 specific accommodation pattern in Chinese L2 auditory processing, but not in English L2 auditory processing. We also found a significant negative correlation between brain activation in this region and the rhyming decision latency for KK and KE, but not for KC. The results of the current study suggest that, for phonological processing of spoken words, L1 and L2 recruited largely shared brain regions and relative involvement of language specific regions is also expected.

Topic Area: Multilingualism