This study explores neural mechanisms underlying how prior knowledge gained from pre-listening transcript reading helps comprehend fast-rate speech in a second language (L2) and applies to L2 learning. Top-down predictive processing by prior knowledge may play an important role in L2 speech comprehension and improving listening skill. By manipulating the pre-listening transcript effect (pre-listening transcript reading [TR] vs. no transcript reading [NTR]) and type of languages (first language (L1) vs. L2), we measured brain activity in L2 learners, who performed fast-rate listening comprehension tasks during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Thereafter, we examined whether TR_L2-specific brain activity can predict individual learning success after an intensive listening training. The left angular and superior temporal gyri were key areas responsible for integrating prior knowledge to sensory input. Activity in these areas correlated significantly with gain scores on subsequent training, indicating that brain activity related to prior knowledge-sensory input integration predicts future learning success.
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