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  Word learning reveals white matter plasticity in preschool children

Ekerdt, C., Kühn, C., Anwander, A., Brauer, J., & Friederici, A. D. (2020). Word learning reveals white matter plasticity in preschool children. Brain Structure & Function, 225(2), 607-619. doi:10.1007/s00429-020-02024-7.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-724C-6 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-0921-B
Genre: Journal Article

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 Creators:
Ekerdt, Clara1, Author              
Kühn, Clara1, Author              
Anwander, Alfred1, Author              
Brauer, Jens1, Author              
Friederici, Angela D.1, Author              
Affiliations:
1Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634551              

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Free keywords: White matter; Plasticity; Development; Language acquisition; Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)
 Abstract: Word learning plays a central role in language development and is a key predictor for later academic success. The underlying neural basis of successful word learning in children is still unknown. Here, we took advantage of the opportunity afforded by diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) to investigate neural plasticity in the white matter of typically developing preschool children as they learn words. We demonstrate that after three weeks of word learning, children showed significantly larger increases of fractional anisotropy (FA) in the left precentral white matter compared to two control groups. Average training accuracy was correlated with FA change in the white matter underlying the left dorsal postcentral gyrus, with children who learned more slowly showing larger FA increases in this region. Moreover, we found that the status of white matter in the left middle temporal gyrus, assumed to support semantic processes, is predictive for early stages of word learning. Our findings provide the first evidence for white matter in word learning and its plasticity in preschool children as a function of training. The present results on learning novel words in children point to a key involvement of the left fronto-parietal fiber connection, known to be implicated in top-down attention as well as working memory. While working memory and attention have been discussed to participate in word learning in children, our training study provides evidence that the neural structure supporting these cognitive processes plays a direct role in word learning.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2018-05-282020-01-072020-02-182020-03-01
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Method: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1007/s00429-020-02024-7
PMID: 32072249
Other: Epub 2020
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Project name : Neural basis of syntax in the developing brain / NEUROSYNTAX
Grant ID : 269505
Funding program : Funding Program 7 (ERC-2010-AdG_20100407)
Funding organization : European Commission (EC)

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Title: Brain Structure & Function
  Abbreviation : Brain Struct Funct
Source Genre: Journal
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Pages: - Volume / Issue: 225 (2) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 607 - 619 Identifier: ISSN: 1863-2653
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/1863-2653