Xiang, H., Dediu, D., Roberts, L., Van Oort, E., Norris, D., & Hagoort, P. (2012). The structural connectivity underpinning language aptitude, working memory and IQ in the perisylvian language network. Language Learning,62(Supplement S2), 110-130. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9922.2012.00708.x.
We carried out the first study on the relationship between individual language aptitude and structural connectivity of language pathways in the adult brain. We measured four components of language aptitude (vocabulary learning, VocL; sound recognition, SndRec; sound-symbol correspondence, SndSym; and grammatical inferencing, GrInf) using the LLAMA language aptitude test (Meara, 2005). Spatial working memory (SWM), verbal working memory (VWM) and IQ were also measured as control factors. Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) was employed to investigate the structural connectivity of language pathways in the perisylvian language network. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) on behavioural measures suggests that a general ability might be important to the first stages of L2 acquisition. It also suggested that VocL, SndSy and SWM are more closely related to general IQ than SndRec and VocL, and distinguished the tasks specifically designed to tap into L2 acquisition (VocL, SndRec,SndSym and GrInf) from more generic measures (IQ, SWM and VWM). Regression analysis suggested significant correlations between most of these behavioural measures and the structural connectivity of certain language pathways, i.e., VocL and BA47-Parietal pathway, SndSym and inter-hemispheric BA45 pathway, GrInf and BA45-Temporal pathway and BA6-Temporal pathway, IQ and BA44-Parietal pathway, BA47-Parietal pathway, BA47-Temporal pathway and inter-hemispheric BA45 pathway, SWM and inter-hemispheric BA6 pathway and BA47-Parietal pathway, and VWM and BA47-Temporal pathway. These results are discussed in relation to relevant findings in the literature.