Individual differences in working memory impact the trajectory of non-native speech category learning.

Academic Article


  • What is the role of working memory over the course of non-native speech category learning? Prior work has predominantly focused on how working memory might influence learning assessed at a single timepoint. Here, we substantially extend this prior work by examining the role of working memory on speech learning performance over time (i.e., over several months) and leverage a multifaceted approach that provides key insights into how working memory influences learning accuracy, maintenance of knowledge over time, generalization ability, and decision processes. We found that the role of working memory in non-native speech learning depends on the timepoint of learning and whether individuals learned the categories at all. Among learners, across all stages of learning, working memory was associated with higher accuracy as well as faster and slightly more cautious decision making. Further, while learners and non-learners did not have substantially different working memory performance, learners had faster evidence accumulation and more cautious decision thresholds throughout all sessions. Working memory may enhance learning by facilitating rapid category acquisition in initial stages and enabling faster and slightly more careful decision-making strategies that may reduce the overall effort needed to learn. Our results have important implications for developing interventions to improve learning in naturalistic language contexts.
  • Authors

  • Roark, Casey
  • Paulon, Giorgio
  • Rebaudo, Giovanni
  • McHaney, Jacie R
  • Sarkar, Abhra
  • Chandrasekaran, Bharath
  • Publication Date

  • 2024
  • Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Adult
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Language
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Speech
  • Young Adult
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • e0297917
  • Volume

  • 19
  • Issue

  • 6