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Rohde H.,University of Edinburgh | Ettlinger M.,Human Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition | Year: 2012

Although previous research has established that multiple top-down factors guide the identification of words during speech processing, the ultimate range of information sources that listeners integrate from different levels of linguistic structure is still unknown. In a set of experiments, we investigate whether comprehenders can integrate information from the 2 most disparate domains: pragmatic inference and phonetic perception. Using contexts that trigger pragmatic expectations regarding upcoming coreference (expectations for either he or she), we test listeners' identification of phonetic category boundaries (using acoustically ambiguous words on the /hi/~/∫i/ continuum). The results indicate that, in addition to phonetic cues, word recognition also reflects pragmatic inference. These findings are consistent with evidence for top-down contextual effects from lexical, syntactic, and semantic cues, but they extend this previous work by testing cues at the pragmatic level and by eliminating a statistical-frequency confound that might otherwise explain the previously reported results. We conclude by exploring the time course of this interaction and discussing how different models of cue integration could be adapted to account for our results. © 2012 American Psychological Association. Source

Wong P.C.M.,Chinese University of Hong Kong | Wong P.C.M.,Northwestern University | Ettlinger M.,Northwestern University | Ettlinger M.,Human Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory | Zheng J.,Northwestern University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

As research into the neurobiology of language has focused primarily on the systems level, fewer studies have examined the link between molecular genetics and normal variations in language functions. Because the ability to learn a language varies in adults and our genetic codes also vary, research linking the two provides a unique window into the molecular neurobiology of language. We consider a candidate association between the dopamine receptor D2 gene (DRD2) and linguistic grammar learning. DRD2-TAQ-IA polymorphism (rs1800497) is associated with dopamine receptor D2 distribution and dopamine impact in the human striatum, such that A1 allele carriers show reduction in D2 receptor binding relative to carriers who are homozygous for the A2 allele. The individual differences in grammatical rule learning that are particularly prevalent in adulthood are also associated with striatal function and its role in domain-general procedural memory. Therefore, we reasoned that procedurally-based grammar learning could be associated with DRD2-TAQ-IA polymorphism. Here, English-speaking adults learned artificial concatenative and analogical grammars, which have been respectively associated with procedural and declarative memory. Language learning capabilities were tested while learners' neural hemodynamic responses were simultaneously measured by fMRI. Behavioral learning and brain activation data were subsequently compared with the learners' DRD2 (rs1800497) genotype. Learners who were homozygous for the A2 allele were better at concatenative (but not analogical) grammar learning and had higher striatal responses relative to those who have at least one A1 allele. These results provide preliminary evidence for the neurogenetic basis of normal variations in linguistic grammar learning and its link to domain-general functions. © 2013 Wong et al. Source

Cate A.D.,Human Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory | Goodale M.A.,University of Western Ontario | Kohler S.,University of Western Ontario
Brain Research | Year: 2011

Images of buildings and manipulable objects have been found to activate distinct regions in the ventral visual pathway. Yet, many non-categorical properties distinguish buildings from common everyday objects, and perhaps the most salient of these is size. In this fMRI study, we investigated whether or not changes in perceived scale can account for some of the differences in category-specific responses, independent of the influence of semantic or retinotopic image properties. We used independent scans to localize object-specific ROIs in lateral occipital cortex (LO) and scene-specific ROIs in the parahippocampal place area (PPA) and posterior collateral sulcus. We then contrasted the effects of stimulus category and perceived size/distance in these regions in a factorial design. Participants performed an oddball detection task while viewing images of objects, buildings, and planar rectangles both with and without a background that indicated stimulus size/distance via simple pictorial cues. The analyses of fMRI responses showed effects of perceived size/distance in addition to effects of category in LO and the PPA. Interestingly, when simple rectangles were presented in a control condition against the background that indicated size/distance, LO in the right hemisphere responded significantly more to the small/close rectangles than to the large/far ones, in spite of the fact that the rectangles themselves were identical. These findings suggest that ventral stream regions that show category specificity are modulated by the perceived size and distance of visual stimuli. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. Source

Yund E.W.,Hearing Loss Research Laboratory | Yund E.W.,Human Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory | Woods D.L.,Human Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory | Woods D.L.,University of California at Davis
Ear and Hearing | Year: 2010

Objectives: Repeated testing of speech perception is unavoidable in evaluating the benefits of hearing aids and auditory rehabilitation, but procedural and content learning due to repeated test administration can masquerade as a general improvement in speech perception. A previous study of the speech reception threshold (SRT) in quiet reported procedural learning that was sufficiently large to call into question the use of repeated sentence testing in evaluating the effects of auditory rehabilitation. The objective of the first experiment was to measure the effects of content and procedural learning in noise using the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) when some sentences were repeated and others were not. The objective of the second experiment was to estimate the effects of procedural learning in a larger group of listeners using both the HINT and the Quick Speech in Noise test (QuickSIN) without sentence repetition across test sessions. The objective of the third experiment was to evaluate content learning in the HINT and the QuickSIN when sentence tests were repeated at intervals of several months. Design: In experiment 1, eight normal-hearing listeners completed five 1-hr test sessions on separate days. All sessions included sets of HINT sentences that were presented twice per session to evaluate content learning. Sessions 1 and 5 also included sets of unique sentences to measure procedural learning. In experiment 2, 23 young normal-hearing listeners completed three sessions over a 10-day period with unique HINT and QuickSIN sentence lists presented in each session. In experiment 3, 11 older, normal-hearing listeners completed three sessions of unique HINT and QuickSIN sentence lists, as in experiment 2. After an interval corresponding to a course of auditory rehabilitation training or hearing-aid acclimatization, the listeners were tested with the same sentence lists. Results: In experiment 1, the SRT for repeated sentences improved by an average of 2.7 dB, whereas that for unique sentences showed an insignificant 0.3 dB change. These results demonstrate that HINT SRTs can be affected by content learning for repeated sentences, but are minimally affected by procedural learning for unique sentence material. Significant procedural learning was found only in the first session. In experiment 2, HINT SRTs improved by 0.2 dB per session whereas improvements on the QuickSIN (0.1 dB per session) failed to reach statistical significance. In experiment 3, both tests showed significant improvements; HINT SRTs improved by 0.5 dB and QuickSIN SRTs by 0.4 dB. Conclusions: Both the HINT and the QuickSIN provide stable and sensitive measures of speech perception across repeated test sessions provided that sentences are not repeated. Practice with at least two sentence lists is needed to eliminate the initial effect of procedural learning in the first session. The results with the HINT and QuickSIN at moderate noise levels differ from previous results of sentence testing in quiet, whereas SRTs improved 6 to 9 dB over five sessions for both repeated and unique sentences. Differences between testing at moderate noise levels and in quiet seem to account for the difference in the stability of these sentence-test measurements. Copyright © 2010 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Source

Woods D.L.,Human Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory | Woods D.L.,University of California at Davis | William Yund E.,Human Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory | Wyma J.M.,Human Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory | And 2 more authors.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2015

Questionnaire completion is a complex task that places demands on cognitive functions subserving reading, introspective memory, decision-making, and motor control. Although computerized questionnaires and surveys are used with increasing frequency in clinical practice, few studies have examined question completion time (QCT), the time required to complete each question. Here, we analyzed QCTs in 172 control subjects and 31 patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) who completed two computerized questionnaires, the 17-question Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Checklist (PCL) and the 25-question Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ). In control subjects, robust correlations were found between self-paced QCTs on the PCL and CFQ (r = 0.82). QCTs on individual questions correlated strongly with the number of words in the question, indicating the critical role of reading speed. QCTs increased significantly with age, and were reduced in females and in subjects with increased education and computer experience. QCT z-scores, corrected for age, education, computer use, and sex, correlated more strongly with each other than with the results of other cognitive tests. Patients with a history of severe TBI showed significantly delayed QCTs, but QCTs fell within the normal range in patients with a history of mild TBI. When questionnaires are used to gather relevant patient information, simultaneous QCT measures provide reliable and clinically sensitive measures of processing speed and executive function. © 2015 Woods, Yund, Wyma, Ruff and Herron. Source

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