Differential activation of a frontoparietal network explains population-level differences in statistical learning from speech

Joan Orpella, M. Florencia Assaneo, Pablo Ripollés, Laura Noejovich, Diana López-Barroso, Ruth de Diego-Balaguer, David Poeppel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3001712
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Speech/physiology
  • Speech Perception/physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Neuroscience


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