In the modern society, to attain a foreign language and to communicate by using it fluently becomes more and more important. Thus, to improve the learning efficiently of a new language is one essential research direction. Following the normal development, the human brain masters the native language (L1) since childhood, therefore, learning a second language (L2) after puberty with its properties differed from the L1, must result in a tuning of the language network in the brain.
Our research has focused on the cognitive processes involved in spoken language comprehension in L1 and L2, attempting to demonstrate the neural signature of the L2 proficiency. The study went through two phases, first, the subjects evaluation and recruitment and, second, the functional magnetic resonant imaging (fMRI) experiment. In the subject evaluation and recruitment phase, a series of behavioral tests were included to probe one’s L2 proficiency level (e.g., the vocabulary size, the level of paragraph comprehension, the self-evaluation of L2 level, the amount of exposure on L2 in daily life, etc.). In the fMRI experiment, the participants’ underwent two tasks: (1) a classic task-based sentence comprehension task in which participants listened to sentences in L1, L2 and a language they did not understand, and (2) a story comprehension task in which participants listened to continuous story in L1 and L2 as in the natural context. The sentence comprehension task allowed us to contrast the level of the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal among L1, L2, the unknown language, and rest condition. By doing so, the language network of L1 and L2 will be identified. Moreover, the contrast between different levels of L2 proficiency group provided the opportunity to identify the neural representation of L2 proficiency. On the other hand, in the story comprehension task, brain activities at each location of the brain of any two pairs of participants were taken and to compute the level of synchronization. By repeating this procedure among all locations and between all possible pairs, the novel method offered an opportunity to inspect language processing in a natural context which may involve processes of larger time-scale (e.g. integration).
Auditory perception plays a significant role in tonal language learning and cognitive development. Since Mandarin is a typical tonal language which can alter to different meanings by varying its lexical tones, hence, we are interested in examining the difference of lexical tone perception development between normal hearing child and congenital hearing loss child. Due to the deficiency of hearing ability and possible language delay, the tone perception performance for hearing-impaired children is expected to be poorer than normal-hearing children. For severe or profound hearing loss, cochlear implant is an electronic medical device which provides sound signals to brain. However, how the cochlear implant influence the learning pattern of lexical tone perception needs more investigation. In our laboratory, cognitive neuroscience experimental methods such as EEG and ERP are adopted and combined with behavior studies for a better understanding of neural perception of Mandarin tones in prelingually deaf children with cochlear implants.
幽默感在不僅可加速人際互動中社會訊息的溝通，更可化解許多突發的尷尬。雖然目前已經發現，幽默感的基本運作模式為透過“期望”與”不協調”所產生的驚訝 ，且需要透過左、 右半腦相互作用才能使人真正明白笑點。但大腦語言機制如何分析、理解語意中的幽默仍尚未釐清。
本團隊將利用八組中文雙人對話(相聲以及訪談)，建構不同生理訊號庫，包含腦波圖(electroencephalogram)、腦磁圖(Magnetoencephalography)以及功能性磁共振成像(FMRI，functional magnetic resonance imaging, FMRI)。