Language Aptitude for Pronunciation in Advanced Second Language (L2) Learners: Behavioural Predictors and Neural Substrates.

Xiaochen Hu (Corresponding author), Hermann Ackermann, Jason Martin, Michael Erb, Susanne Winkler, Susanne Maria Reiterer (Corresponding author)

    Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


    Individual differences in second language (L2) aptitude have been assumed to depend upon a variety of cognitive and personality factors. Especially, the cognitive factor phonological working memory has been conceptualized as language learning device. However, strong associations between phonological working memory and L2 aptitude have been previously found in early-stage learners only, not in advanced learners. The current study aimed at investigating the behavioural and neurobiological predictors of advanced L2 learning. Our behavioural results showed that phonetic coding ability and empathy, but not phonological working memory, predict L2 pronunciation aptitude in advanced learners. Second, functional neuroimaging revealed this behavioral trait to be correlated with hemodynamic responses of the cerebral network of speech motor control and auditory-perceptual areas. We suggest that the acquisition of L2 pronunciation aptitude is a dynamic process, requiring a variety of neural resources at different processing stages over time.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)366
    Number of pages367
    JournalBrain and Language
    Issue number3
    Early online date27 Dec 2012
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

    Austrian Fields of Science 2012

    • 503003 Talent research
    • 301401 Brain research
    • 602008 English studies
    • 602040 Psycholinguistics

    Cite this