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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Plastic cortical changes induced by learning to communicate with non-speech sounds.

With Morse code, an acoustic message is transmitted using combinations of tone patterns rather than the spectrally and temporally complex speech sounds that constitute the spoken language. Using MEG recordings of the mismatch negativity (MMN, an index of permanent auditory cortical representations of native language speech sounds), we probed the dominant hemisphere for the developing Morse code representations in adult Morse code learners. Initially, the MMN to the Morse coded syllables was, on average, stronger in the hemisphere opposite to the one dominant for the MMN to native language speech sounds. After a training period of 3 months, the pattern reversed, however: the mean Morse code MMN became lateralized to the hemisphere that was predominant for the speech-sound MMN. This suggests that memory traces for the Morse coded acoustic language units develop within the hemisphere that already accommodates the permanent traces for natural speech sounds. These plastic changes manifest, presumably, the close associations formed between the neural representations of the tone patterns and phonemes.[1]


  1. Plastic cortical changes induced by learning to communicate with non-speech sounds. Kujala, A., Huotilainen, M., Uther, M., Shtyrov, Y., Monto, S., Ilmoniemi, R.J., Näätänen, R. Neuroreport (2003) [Pubmed]
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