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Neuronal correlation learning and it's implications for the brain mechanisms of language.
Proceedings of the 2002 meeting of the Rodin Remediation Academy
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If neurons frequently fire at the same time, their connections strengthen. There cannot be any doubt that neuronal correlation occurs when infants acquire language. During word repetition, neuron populations in inferior frontal areas giving rise to articulations become active together with superior temporal populations responding to the sounds produced. The result may be that distinct word-related neuron webs are established in the perisylvian cortex. When particular words frequently occur in the context of certain visual perceptions and actions, perisylvian neuron ensembles become active together with neurons in visual and motor areas. The emerging networks may then closely link the perisylvian populations to additional neurons in temporo-occipital or fronto-central areas depending on the non-linguistic contexts in which a particular word is frequently being used. Data will be presented that indicate (I) immediate (latency ~150 ms) perisylvian activation reflecting word recognition 1 and near-simultaneous activation of superior temporal and inferior frontal areas, and (II) differences in brain activity elicited by words from different semantic categories, in particular items referring to actions and visual perceptions 2, or to actions performed with different body parts (e.g., “walking” vs. “talking”) 3. It will be argued that these results are best explained by assuming word-specific discrete neuronal assemblies whose cortical distributions reflect semantic word properties. Correlation learning may be the driving force establishing these networks 4. Implications of the correlation learning principle for language therapy will be discussed 5. 1. Pulvermüller, F. et al. Memory traces for words as revealed by the mismatch negativity. NeuroImage 14, 607-616 (2001). 2. Pulvermüller, F., Assadollahi, R. & Elbert, T. Neuromagnetic evidence for early semantic access in word recognition. European Journal of Neuroscience 13, 201-205 (2001). 3. Pulvermüller, F., Hummel, F. & Härle, M. Walking or Talking?: Behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of action verb processing. Brain and Language 78, 143-168 (2001). 4. Pulvermüller, F. Brain reflections of words and their meaning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 5, 517-524 (2001). 5. Pulvermüller, F. et al. Constraint-induced therapy of chronic phasia following stroke. Stroke 32, 1621-1626 (2001).