Differential cortical responses in second language learners to different vowel contrasts

Yasuyo Minagawa-Kawai, Koichi Mori, Yutaka Sato, Toshizo Koizumi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Near-infrared spectroscopy was used to measure hemodynamic responses in Korean subjects learning Japanese as a second-language to Japanese phonemic contrasts that are either phonologically distinctive or non-distinctive in their first-language. These results were compared with those of Japanese native listeners reported previously. Unlike the results observed in the Japanese subjects, the Korean subjects did not show category-specific neural responses to a durational contrast that is non-distinctive in their first-language. The /a-e/ contrast elicited the larger response in the left auditory area, consistent with the results of the Japanese. These phoneme-dependent responses imply that the neuronal networks subserving the first and second-languages are either shared or exclusive according to the mutual relationship between the phonemic properties of the first and second-languages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-903
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Apr 9
Externally publishedYes


  • Categorical perception
  • First language
  • Multilingualism
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)
  • Phoneme perception
  • Second language
  • Suprasegmental
  • Vowel duration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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