NEURAL CORRELATES OF IMAGERY-BASED FOREIGN WORD LEARNING
Bradley, Kailyn 1985-
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The purpose of this study was to investigate whether an interactive imagery-based learning paradigm would facilitate foreign word learning more than picture imagery. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to examine the cognitive constructs underlying these pedagogies. Additionally, native language proficiency and imaging ability were evaluated as predictors of successful vocabulary learning. English monolinguals were trained on novel German vocabulary using two different imagery-based learning techniques for four consecutive days. Picture imagery training required participants to visualize the picture of an object presented with a novel word, whereas interactive imagery training required visualization of a first-person interaction with the object. After training, fMRI was used to assess the neural correlates of training during an auditory recognition task. Two weeks post-scan, vocabulary retention was assessed. Behavioral results revealed a training order effect in which undergoing picture imagery training first provided scaffolding that increased accuracy in interactive imagery training only during the first session. Additionally, English proficiency but not imaging ability predicted high vocabulary test scores. Moreover, imaging results revealed distinct neural patterns related to the different learning techniques. Words learned through picture imagery strongly activated basic visual processing regions, whereas activity for words learned through interactive imagery was greatly reduced and present in motor resonance and cognitive control regions. Taken together, these findings support the conclusion that it is initially more difficult for adults to adapt to using interactive imagery to learn vocabulary and that individual differences may predict successful learning in addition to training method.