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Physiol Behav. 2002 Dec;77(4-5):657-62.

Teaching the /r/-/l/ discrimination to Japanese adults: behavioral and neural aspects.

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Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, 115 Mellon Institute, 4400 Fifth Avenue, 15213, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Several studies have been conducted to address the learning of a nonnative speech contrast in adulthood, using native speakers of Japanese and the English /r/-/l/ contrast. Japanese adults were asked to identify contrasting /r/-/l/ stimuli (e.g., "rock-lock"). An adaptive training regime starting with initially easy stimuli was contrasted with a fixed training regime using difficult stimuli, with some subjects receiving feedback on the correctness of their responses and others receiving no feedback in both conditions. After three and six sessions of training, subjects received tests assessing identification and discrimination of /r/-/l/ stimuli as well as generalization. In all cases except fixed training without feedback, subjects showed clear evidence of learning, and several indicators suggested that training affects speech perception, rather than simply auditory processes. Neuroimaging studies currently underway are examining the neural basis of these findings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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