Academy of Finland
Funding decision
Name Astikainen, Piia
Organisation JY
Project title Learning of speech sound discrimination - insights from brain activity recordings in humans and rats
Decision No. 273134
Decision date 09.12.2013
Funding period 01.01.2014 - 31.12.2016
Funding 350 000
WebFOCUS Report
Project description
The research indicates that rodents can automatically extract rules in speech and non-speech sounds. The result implies that rule extraction, since observed in the rodent brain, is not dependent on linguistic brain areas. This means that complex cognitive processes, even those supporting speech perception, are not restricted to primates. In addition, we found that mere passive exposure to speech sounds induced long-term changes in the functioning of the auditory cortex in rats. The same was found also in human subjects when Finnish participants were exposed to Chinese lexical tones while they were watching silent movies. Previously auditory perceptual learning has been thought to be restricted to active learning or long-term environmental exposure. The results are important in understanding learning, especially learning of foreign languages, and evolution of human language.