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Vortrag von Susanne Maria Reiterer am Donnerstag, 17.11.2011, 16-18 Uhr

Freitag, 11. November 2011. Aus der Kategorie 'Vortragsreihe'. Das Sprachwissenschaftliche Institut lädt ein zu dem Vortrag von Susanne Maria Reiterer (Universität Tübingen): Mezzofanti's secret. A large-scale investigation into second language pronunciation aptitude in the light of neuroimaging and psychology --
An unanswered question in adult language learning or late bi- and multilingualism is why individuals show marked differences in their ability to imitate foreign accents. While recent research acknowledges that more adults than previously assumed can still acquire a “native” foreign accent, very little is known about the neuro-cognitive correlates of this special ability.
We investigated 140 German-speaking individuals displaying varying degrees of “mimicking” capacity, based on natural language text, sentence, and word imitations either in their second language English or in Hindi and Tamil, languages they had never been exposed to before. The large subject pool was strictly controlled for previous language experience prior to magnetic resonance imaging.
The late-onset (around10years) bilinguals (second language learners) showed significant individual differences as to how they employed their left-hemisphere speech areas: higher hemodynamic activation in a distinct fronto-parietal network accompanied low ability, while high ability paralleled enhanced gray matter volume in these areas concomitant with decreased hemodynamic responses. Auditory working memory largely predicted the direct speech imitation skills in case of Hindi imitations, whereas empathy plus phonetic coding ability taken together were the best predictors for the imitations in second language English. The hemodynamic activation patterns (fMRI) were also different in the case of the English pronunciation, the L2 with many years of experience. Finally and unexpectedly, males were found to be more talented foreign speech mimics.

Der Vortrag findet in Raum 3/159 statt.