Working memory relates to individual differences in speech category learning: Insights from computational modeling and pupillometry [article]

Jacie R. McHaney, Rachel Tessmer, Casey L. Roark, Bharath Chandrasekaran
2021 bioRxiv   pre-print
Across two experiments, we examine the relationship between individual differences in working memory (WM) and the acquisition of non-native speech categories in adulthood. While WM is associated with individual differences in a variety of learning tasks, successful acquisition of speech categories is argued to be contingent on WM-independent procedural-learning mechanisms. Thus, the role of WM in speech category learning is unclear. In Experiment 1, we show that individuals with higher WM
more » ... e non-native speech categories faster and to a greater extent than those with lower WM. In Experiment 2, we replicate these results and show that individuals with higher WM use more optimal, procedural-based learning strategies and demonstrate more distinct speech-evoked pupillary responses for correct relative to incorrect trials. We propose that higher WM may allow for greater stimulus-related attention, resulting in more robust representations and optimal learning strategies. We discuss implications for neurobiological models of speech category learning.
doi:10.1101/2021.01.10.426093 fatcat:wdomdnsoozfsbixf6oxs2k7w5m