Behavioral perceptual abilities and neurophysiologic changes observed after listening training can generalize to other stimuli not used in the training paradigm, thereby demonstrating behavioral “transfer of learning” and plasticity in underlying physiologic processes. Nine normal-hearing monolingual English-speaking adults were trained to identify a prevoiced labial stop sound (one that is not used phonemically in the English language). After training, the subjects were asked to discriminate and identify a prevoiced alveolar stop. Mismatch negativity cortical evoked responses (MMN) were recorded to both labial and alveolar stimuli before and after training. Behavioral performance and MMNs also were evaluated in an age-matched control group that did not receive training. Listening training improved the experimental group’s ability to discriminate and identify an unfamiliar VOT contrast. That enhanced ability transferred from one place of articulation (labial) to another (alveolar). The behavioral training effects were reflected in the MMN, which showed an increase in duration and area when elicited by the training stimuli as well as a decrease in onset latency when elicited by the transfer stimuli. Interestingly, changes in the MMN were largest over the left hemisphere. The results demonstrate that training can generalize to listening situations beyond those used in training sessions, and that the preattentive central neurophysiology underlying perceptual learning are altered through auditory training.
Central auditory system plasticity: Generalization to novel stimuli following listening training
Kelly Tremblay, Nina Kraus, Thomas D. Carrell, Therese McGee; Central auditory system plasticity: Generalization to novel stimuli following listening training. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 December 1997; 102 (6): 3762–3773. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.420139
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