3 years ago

Recently learned foreign abstract and concrete nouns are represented in distinct cortical networks similar to the native language

Katharina von Kriegstein, Manuela Macedonia, Katja M. Mayer
In the native language, abstract and concrete nouns are represented in distinct areas of the cerebral cortex. Currently, it is unknown whether this is also the case for abstract and concrete nouns of a foreign language. Here, we taught adult native speakers of German 45 abstract and 45 concrete nouns of a foreign language. After learning the nouns for 5 days, participants performed a vocabulary translation task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Translating abstract nouns in contrast to concrete nouns elicited responses in regions that are also responsive to abstract nouns in the native language: the left inferior frontal gyrus and the left middle and superior temporal gyri. Concrete nouns elicited larger responses in the angular gyri bilaterally and the left parahippocampal gyrus than abstract nouns. The cluster in the left angular gyrus showed psychophysiological interaction (PPI) with the left lingual gyrus. The left parahippocampal gyrus showed PPI with the posterior cingulate cortex. Similar regions have been previously found for concrete nouns in the native language. The results reveal similarities in the cortical representation of foreign language nouns with the representation of native language nouns that already occur after 5 days of vocabulary learning. Furthermore, we showed that verbal and enriched learning methods were equally suitable to teach foreign abstract and concrete nouns. Hum Brain Mapp 38:4398–4412, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/hbm.23668

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