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Stimulating Multiple-Demand Cortex Enhances Vocabulary Learning

Sliwinska, M, Violante, I, Wise, R, Leech, R, Devlin, J, Geranmayeh, F and Hampshire, A (2017) Stimulating Multiple-Demand Cortex Enhances Vocabulary Learning. The Journal of Neuroscience, 37 (32). pp. 7606-7618. ISSN 0270-6474

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It is well established that networks within multiple-demand cortex (MDC) become active when diverse skills and behaviors are being learnt. However, their causal role in learning remains to be established. In the present study, we first performed functional magnetic resonance imaging on healthy female and male human participants to confirm that MDC was most active in the initial stages of learning a novel vocabulary, consisting of pronounceable nonwords (pseudowords), each associated with a picture of a real object. We then examined, in healthy female and male human participants, whether repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation of a frontal midline node of the cingulo-opercular MDC affected learning rates specifically during the initial stages of learning. We report that stimulation of this node, but not a control brain region, substantially improved both accuracy and response times during the earliest stage of learning pseudoword– object associations. This stimulation had no effect on the processing of established vocabulary, tested by the accuracy and response times when participants decided whether a real word was accurately paired with a picture of an object. These results provide evidence that noninvasive stimulation to MDC nodes can enhance learning rates, thereby demonstrating their causal role in the learning process. We propose that this causal role makes MDC candidate target for exper- imental therapeutics; for example, in stroke patients with aphasia attempting to reacquire a vocabulary.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 11 Medical and Health Sciences, 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Society for Neuroscience
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2020 08:29
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 07:03
DOI or ID number: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3857-16.2017
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13250
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