Effect of syntactic similarity on cortical activation during second language processing: A comparison of English and Japanese among native Korean trilinguals

Hyeonjeong Jeong, Motoaki Sugiura, Yuko Sassa, Tomoki Haji, Nobuo Usui, Masato Taira, Kaoru Horie, Shigeru Sato, Ryuta Kawashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this study of native Korean trilinguals we examined the effect of syntactic similarity between first (L1) and second (L2) languages on cortical activation during the processing of Japanese and English, which are, respectively, very similar to and different from Korean. Subjects had equivalent proficiency in Japanese and English. They performed auditory sentence comprehension tasks in Korean, Japanese, and English during functional MRI (fMRI). The bilateral superior temporal cortex was activated during the comprehension of three languages. The pars triangularis of the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) was additionally activated for L2 processing. Furthermore, the right cerebellum, the pars opercularis of the left IFG, and the posteriomedial part of the superior frontal gyrus were activated during the English tasks only. We observed significantly greater activation in the pars opercularis of the left IFG, the right cerebellum, and the right superior temporal cortex during the English than Japanese task; activation in these regions did not differ significantly between Korean and Japanese. Differential activation of the pars opercularis of the left IFG and the right cerebellum likely reflects syntactic distance and differential activation in the right superior temporal cortex may reflect the prosodic distance between English from Korean and Japanese. Furthermore, in the pars oparcularis of the left IFG and the right cerebellum, significant negative correlation between the activation and duration of exposure was observed for English, but not for Japanese. Our research supports the notion that linguistic similarity between L1 and L2 affects the cortical processing of second language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-204
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Mar 1

Keywords

  • Second language processing
  • Syntactic similarity
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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