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Journal Article

Brain functional plasticity associated with the emergence of expertise in extreme language control

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Hervais-Adelman, A., Moser-Mercer, B., & Golestani, N. (2015). Brain functional plasticity associated with the emergence of expertise in extreme language control. NeuroImage, 114, 264-274. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.03.072.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-DA47-1
Abstract
We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to longitudinally examine brain plasticity arising from long-term, intensive simultaneous interpretation training. Simultaneous interpretation is a bilingual task with heavy executive control demands. We compared brain responses observed during simultaneous interpretation with those observed during simultaneous speech repetition (shadowing) in a group of trainee simultaneous interpreters, at the beginning and at the end of their professional training program. Age, sex and language-proficiency matched controls were scanned at similar intervals. Using multivariate pattern classification, we found distributed patterns of changes in functional responses from the first to second scan that distinguished the interpreters from the controls. We also found reduced recruitment of the right caudate nucleus during simultaneous interpretation as a result of training. Such practice-related change is consistent with decreased demands on multilingual language control as the task becomes more automatized with practice. These results demonstrate the impact of simultaneous interpretation training on the brain functional response in a cerebral structure that is not specifically linguistic, but that is known to be involved in learning, in motor control, and in a variety of domain-general executive functions. Along with results of recent studies showing functional and structural adaptations in the caudate nuclei of experts in a broad range of domains, our results underline the importance of this structure as a central node in expertise-related networks. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.