Cortical plasticity induced by rapid Hebbian learning of novel tonal word-forms: Evidence from mismatch negativity

Jinxing Yue*, Roelien Bastiaanse, Kai Alter

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Although several experiments reported rapid cortical plasticity induced by passive exposure to novel segmental patterns, few studies have devoted attention to the neural dynamics during the rapid learning of novel tonal word-forms in tonal languages, such as Chinese. In the current study, native speakers of Mandarin Chinese were exposed to acoustically matched real and novel segment-tone patterns. By recording their Mismatch Negativity (MMN) responses (an ERP indicator of long-term memory traces for spoken words), we found enhanced MMNs to the novel word-forms over the left-hemispheric region in the late exposure phase relative to the early exposure phase. In contrast, no significant changes were identified in MMN responses to the real word during familiarisation. Our results suggest a rapid Hebbian learning mechanism in the human neocortex which develops long-term memory traces for a novel segment-tone pattern by establishing new associations between the segmental and tonal representations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)10-22
    Number of pages13
    JournalBrain and Language
    Volume139
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014

    Keywords

    • Event-related potential
    • Hebbian learning
    • Language
    • Lexical tone
    • Mandarin Chinese
    • Mismatch Negativity (MMN)
    • Novel word
    • Oddball paradigm
    • Rapid learning

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