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fMRI Evidence for the Involvement of the Procedural Memory System in Morphological Processing of a Second Language

Pliatsikas, Christos, Johnstone, Tom, Marinis, Theodoros (2014) fMRI Evidence for the Involvement of the Procedural Memory System in Morphological Processing of a Second Language. PLoS ONE, 9 (5). e97298. ISSN 1932-6203. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097298)


Behavioural evidence suggests that English regular past tense forms are automatically decomposed into their stem and affix

(played = play+ed) based on an implicit linguistic rule, which does not apply to the idiosyncratically formed irregular forms

(kept). Additionally, regular, but not irregular inflections, are thought to be processed through the procedural memory

system (left inferior frontal gyrus, basal ganglia, cerebellum). It has been suggested that this distinction does not to apply to

second language (L2) learners of English; however, this has not been tested at the brain level. This fMRI study used a

masked-priming task with regular and irregular prime-target pairs (played-play/kept-keep) to investigate morphological

processing in native and highly proficient late L2 English speakers. No between-groups differences were revealed.

Compared to irregular pairs, regular pairs activated the pars opercularis, bilateral caudate nucleus and the right cerebellum,

which are part of the procedural memory network and have been connected with the processing of morphologically

complex forms. Our study is the first to provide evidence for native-like involvement of the procedural memory system in

processing of regular past tense by late L2 learners of English

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097298
Uncontrolled keywords: morphology; inflection; second language processing; masked priming; fMRI; LIFG; basal ganglia; cerebellum
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Depositing User: Christos Pliatsikas
Date Deposited: 13 May 2014 09:20 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2019 10:37 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Pliatsikas, Christos:
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