Jingwen Li

PhD Candidate; Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Steinhardt

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (September 2 - December 15) :

Producing a second language (L2) without accent is challenging for late L2 learners, because speech motor control underlying pronunciation could have been greatly affected by physical changes at an early age. However, individual differences in L2 speech production performance have been reported in many studies. Li’s project aims to investigate the mechanisms underlying such individual variation. There are three specific research questions: 1) What is the effect of individual differences in auditory and somatosensory acuity in L2 speech production? 2) Can L2 learners establish distinct and long-term feedforward control for L2 speech sounds? 3) Does the establishment of feedforward control for L2 speech sounds have neural basis? The experiment to be conducted at NYU Shanghai aims to answer the third research question. Mandarin native speakers who are late learners of a foreign language will be recruited. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) will be used to track brain activity in regions associated with speech feedforward and feedback control. Analysis will be conducted to examine if highly successful L2 learners will demonstrate decreased brain activity associated with feedback control (increased feedforward control) as compared to less successful learners. Individual differences in sensory acuity will also be studied. Investigation into the motor-sensory aspects in L2 production through behavioral and neural measures will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of bilingualism.

Last Name
Fellows Type
Global Dissertation Fellowship
Global Dissertation Fellowship semester
Fall 2019