People of all ages display the ability to detect and learn from patterns in seemingly random stimuli. Referred to as statistical learning (SL), this process is particularly critical when learning a spoken language, helping in the identification of discrete words within a spoken phrase. Here, by considering individual differences in speech auditory-motor synchronization, we demonstrate that recruitment of a specific neural network supports behavioral differences in SL from speech. While independent component analysis (ICA) of fMRI data revealed that a network of auditory and superior pre/motor regions is universally activated in the process of learning, a frontoparietal network is additionally and selectively engaged by only some individuals (high auditory-motor synchronizers). Importantly, activation of this frontoparietal network is related to a boost in learning performance, and interference with this network via articulatory suppression (AS; i.e., producing irrelevant speech during learning) normalizes performance across the entire sample. Our work provides novel insights on SL from speech and reconciles previous contrasting findings. These findings also highlight a more general need to factor in fundamental individual differences for a precise characterization of cognitive phenomena.
- Brain Mapping
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Speech Perception/physiology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)