Donnerstag, 13. Februar 2020, 10:30 - 11:30 iCal

Talk Dr. Olga Kepinska

"The Neurobiology of Individual Differences in Grammar Learning" - Dr. Olga Kepinska (University of California, San Francisco & University of Connecticut)



Faculty of Psychology, Lecture Hall E, 1st floor (left wing of the building)
Liebiggasse 5, 1010 Wien


People differ substantially in their ability to learn languages, especially when it comes to second language acquisition. In this talk, I will present a series of experiments investigating neural correlates of novel grammar learning and of the analytical component of language aptitude – a specific ability for mastering new languages.

Using a variety of neuroimaging methods: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and electroencephalography (EEG), we aimed at answering the question of what – from a neurobiological perspective – makes some learners more successful and efficient than others. In all experiments, participants with different levels of language learning skills performed an artificial grammar learning task while their brain activity was recorded with EEG or fMRI, and brain structure was mapped with DTI.

We combined different analytical approaches to the collected data, which resulted in a multi-layered view of the initial stages of language learning on a neural level, together with an account of individual differences in L2 grammar acquisition. In short, the results show that (1) successful learners utilize more neural resources, which are organized in a more coherent and integrated way; (2) these additional resources stem predominantly from right hemispheric involvement; and (3) are localized in the fronto-parietal system.

In addition, I will present a short overview of ongoing work into the effects of linguistic diversity in multilingual development. The aim of this current project is to establish whether relative differences and similarities between the languages multilingual children have been exposed to during their lives, contribute to the development of their cognition and brain.


Vienna Cognitive Science Hub


Anna Palmann
Vienna Cognitive Science Hub
0043 6767261304