Poster D66, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
High Definition-transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Enhances Statistical Learning
Julie Fratantoni1, John Hart1,2, Julia Evans1; 1The University of Texas at Dallas, 2The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Statistical learning, or pattern extraction, is one of the fundamental processes that enable humans to learn language. Deficits in statistical learning have been found to be an important contributor to language disorders such as specific language impairment, which affects roughly 7% of the general population, but is estimated to effect up to 58%-84% of juvenile prison populations. Clearly, a better understanding of the deficient neural mechanisms underlying language impairment and a better means to remediate those deficiencies could have major individual and societal impacts. As a first step in investigating methods to enhance statistical learning we used High Definition-transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (HD-tDCS) to modulate the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) during an auditory statistical learning task. Imaging data has shown the LIFG is significantly involved in auditory statistical learning. We used the same artificial language stimuli as Evans and colleagues (2009). Participants listened to the artificial language for 21 minutes during stimulation/no-stimulation. Next, participants were tested using a forced-choice paradigm to identify which set of sounds was most like the artificial language they were listening to. A total of 20 healthy adults participated in the study (10/10, stimulation/control). There was a significant difference in accuracy between the stimulation group (M = 78.7%, SD = 11.2) and the control group (M = 62.3%, SD = 10.0). These findings suggest the LIFG is engaged in statistical learning for the auditory modality during a syllable segmentation task, and that this process can be enhanced using brain stimulation.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Lexicon