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Plasticity in a language-ready brain: complementary evidence from developmental deafness, blindness, and varied language experience across modalities

Thursday, October 6, 3:30 - 5:30 pm EDT, Regency Ballroom

Organizers: Marina Bedny1, Qi Cheng2; 1Johns Hopkins University, 2University of Washington
Chair: Marina Bedny, Johns Hopkins University

The neural basis of language is similar across spoken and signed languages, suggesting a ‘language-ready’ brain. How does experience modify language networks and their interactions with other systems? This symposium brings together research with individuals who are born blind or deaf, combining insights into plasticity from complementary methods. Dr. Bosworth presents insights from eye-tracking into how infants identify modality-invariant language patterns, prior to sign language experience, and how experience changes these abilities. Dr. Cheng combines diffusion tensor imaging and behavioral measures to investigate effects of early delays in language access on language network development. Dr. Emmorey uses time-sensitive ERP data to show how sign and spoken language experience shapes reading networks. Dr. Jednoróg and Dr. Bedny present novel fMRI data revealing effects of congenital blindness and Braille expertise on spoken and written language networks. The discussion will highlight novel insights into language-network plasticity of interest to the broad SNL community. View Talks

Imaging the functional reorganization of the language network in recovery from aphasia

Friday, October 7, 8:00 - 10:00 am EDT, Regency Ballroom

Organizers: Stephen Wilson1; 1Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Chair: Stephen M. Wilson, Vanderbilt University

Most individuals with aphasia after a stroke experience some degree of recovery of language function over time. Recovery from aphasia is thought to depend on neural plasticity, that is, functional reorganization of surviving brain regions such that they take on new or expanded roles in language processing. Using functional neuroimaging, we are beginning to make progress on understanding the mechanisms that underlie this process of functional reorganization. This symposium focuses on novel and innovative approaches to functional imaging of neuroplasticity in aphasia, highlighting important emerging themes including the dependence of reorganization patterns on lesion location, the importance of task design and patient performance considerations, consistency and variability of functional maps, the role of domain general networks in recovery, and the necessity of integrating behavioral and imaging findings in a theoretically grounded neurocomputational account. View Talks

How does the neural mechanism of language processing develop in children?

Saturday, October 8, 8:00 - 10:00 am EDT, Regency Ballroom

Organizers: Jin Wang1,2; 1Vanderbilt University, 2Harvard University
Chair: Matt Davis, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge

Language is a complex cognitive function. Brain development supporting this higher cognitive function is prolonged, continuing over the first two decades of postnatal life. Although the neurobiology of language processing in adults has been extensively studied, how it emerges and evolves in developing children is unclear. Three general frameworks, such as maturation, skill learning, and interactive specialization account, have been hypothesized to account for human functional brain changes (Johnson, 2011). However, how these theories are supported in the domain of language processing remains to be investigated. In this symposium, our speakers will introduce their recent studies on the neural basis of language processing in both typically developing children and children with developmental language disorders. Discussions will be carried out on how studies in this field can inform the understanding of human functional brain development and suggest future educational and clinical strategies. View Talks

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