Blog Archives

Modulation of the motor system during visual and auditory language processing

Studies of embodied cognition have demonstrated the engagement of the motor system when people process action-related words and concepts. However, research using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to examine linguistic modulation in primary motor cortex has produced inconsistent results. Some studies report that action words produce an increase in corticospinal excitability; others, a decrease. Given the differences in methodology and modality, we re-examined this issue, comparing conditions in which participants either read or listened to the same set of action words. In separate blocks of trials, participants were presented with lists of words in the visual and auditory modality, and a TMS pulse was applied over left motor cortex, either 150 or 300 ms after the word onset. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) elicited were larger following the presentation of action words compared with control words. However, this effect was only observed when the words were presented visually; no changes in MEPs were found when the words were presented auditorily. A review of the TMS literature on action word processing reveals a similar modality effect on corticospinal excitability. We discuss different hypotheses that might account for this differential modulation of action semantics by vision and audition.

from Experimental Brain Research


A dialogue among various cultures and its manifestation in stuttering therapy

This paper presents a historical retrospective of the evolution of the clinical aspects of stuttering, and refers to social, cultural, political, and economic variables that might have exerted an influence on this evolution, particularly in relation to the authors experience in Israel. The retrospective commences in the early decades of the 20th century, when speech and language pathology did not exist as a profession, and presents the major approaches to therapy in children and adults employed by clinicians throughout the century. We focused on the impact of the change that occurred in religious society vis-à-vis stuttering on the various aspects of stuttering therapy and research. The Israeli Stuttering Organization–AMBI–is discussed in order to explore the possible influence of social, cultural, and political variables. In addition, we devoted special attention to the changes that occurred in the therapist–client relationship since they are indicative of the change in the nature of the treatment. We elaborated on the need for dialogue as a major component in the therapy and as an important contributor to a successful outcome. The dialogue is also discussed in terms of Eastern philosophy. Future developments in the understanding of stuttering and its implications for therapy are presented and discussed.

from Journal of Fluency Disorders

Noisy zones of proximal development: Conversation in noisy classrooms

Despite the importance of context in studies of language use, sociolinguists have ignored the impact of noise on conversational interaction. This inattention is of particular concern in classrooms where language is a learning tool. Our research on interaction in noisy settings took place in English language elementary school classrooms with students in grades 3, 5, and 7, whose first language was English. Students were observed during regular classroom activities. Employing a novel method, in which students wore ear-level microphones, we obtained stereophonic recordings of the noise and conversation that reached each listener’s ears. A dosimeter measured the noise levels in each classroom. Analyses of students’ patterns of conversation suggest that noise levels impeded the intended development of complex conversational interaction and collaborative learning. This study also questions the place of acoustics in understanding context, and the significance of the hearer’s perspective in sociolinguistic studies of conversational interactions.

from Journal of Sociolinguistics

A Comparison of the Effects of Reading and Listening on Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition

This article compares the effects of listening and reading on the incidental acquisition and retention of vocabulary. Two hundred thirty students participated in the study: They either (a) read three academic texts, (b) watched three lectures, or (c) received no input at all and just completed the vocabulary measures. This study also assessed and compared the relationship between acquisition through each of these presentation modes and the following factors: frequency of occurrence, type of word, type of elaboration, and predictability from word form and parts. The reading subjects made greater vocabulary gains than the listening subjects for all four levels of proficiency analyzed. Inspection of pairwise comparisons seemed to indicate that the difference in gains between the reading and listening conditions decreased as the students’ proficiency increased. Similar trends emerged for retention. Reading also resulted in greater retention 1 month after the input, except for the highest proficiency students. For this group, no significant difference was found between the listening and reading delayed posttest scores. The relationship among each of the four factors was analyzed and vocabulary acquisition was also found to vary across input modes.

from Language Learning

Effects of listening ability on speaking, writing and reading skills of children who were suspected of auditory processing difficulty

It was concluded that, for school-aged children, APD can lead to or is associated with difficulties in written language.

from the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology