INVITED SPEAKER: MARC JOANISSE (UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO)
Title: What individual differences in reading (dis)ability and second-language learning tell us about the brain’s language network
When: Wednesday, February 28th, 4pm
Where: De Grandpré Communications Centre at the Montreal Neurological Institute, 3801 rue University (directions)
This talk is co-hosted by the Montreal Bilingualism and Brain Initiative and the CRBLM. Refreshments will be served.
Human language involves coordinating a distributed network of brain regions in the left and right hemispheres. Much of what we know about this language network comes from neuroimaging studies that average results across groups of largely university-aged, high-achieving individuals. This talk explores a complementary approach that examines variation in the function and structure of the language network, and ties this variability to fine-grained behavioural differences among individuals.
Work in my lab has examined these brain-behaviour correlations in two areas of language: reading ability and disability, and second-language (L2) learning. We have adopted a number of neuroimaging techniques to measure these effects: event-related potentials (ERPs); functional MRI; white matter tractography using diffusion-weighted MRI; and resting state connectivity measured with fMRI. Our reading studies have examined both normal variability in adult readers, and differences between children with reading disability (dyslexia) and typical readers. Importantly, different subcomponents of reading, such as phonological awareness and text comprehension, are supported by complementary subnetworks in the left and right hemispheres. This provides useful insights into the organization of the reading brain, and can tie these findings to successes and failures in learning to read. Likewise, our studies of L2 learners indicate that variability in the neural signatures of bilingualism reflect both the age of L2 acquisition (AoA) and individuals’ ultimate success in L2 learning; this supports a model in which both maturational and experience-dependent factors influence how the brain represents a second language.