Borragan, G., Urbain, C., Schmitz, R., Mary, A., & Peigneux, P. (2015). Sleep and memory consolidation: motor performance and proactive interference effects in sequence learning. Brain Cogn, 95, 54-61
That post-training sleep supports the consolidation of sequential motor skills remains debated. Performance improvement and sensitivity to proactive interference are both putative measures of long-term memory consolidation. We tested sleep-dependent memory consolidation for visuo-motor sequence learning using a proactive interference paradigm. Thirty-three young adults were trained on sequence A on Day 1, then had Regular Sleep (RS) or were Sleep Deprived (SD) on the night after learning. After two recovery nights, they were tested on the same sequence A, then had to learn a novel, potentially competing sequence B. We hypothesized that proactive interference effects on sequence B due to the prior learning of sequence A would be higher in the RS condition, considering that proactive interference is an indirect marker of the robustness of sequence A, which should be better consolidated over post-training sleep. Results highlighted sleep-dependent improvement for sequence A, with faster RTs overnight for RS participants only. Moreover, the beneficial impact of sleep was specific to the consolidation of motor but not sequential skills. Proactive interference effects on learning a new material at Day 4 were similar between RS and SD participants. These results suggest that post-training sleep contributes to optimizing motor but not sequential components of performance in visuo-motor sequence learning.
Borragan, G., Slama, H., Destrebecqz, A., & Peigneux, P. (2016). Cognitive Fatigue Facilitates Procedural Sequence Learning. Front Hum Neurosci, 10, 86. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00086
Enhanced procedural learning has been evidenced in conditions where cognitive control is diminished, including hypnosis, disruption of prefrontal activity and non-optimal time of the day. Another condition depleting the availability of controlled resources is cognitive fatigue (CF). We tested the hypothesis that CF, eventually leading to diminished cognitive control, facilitates procedural sequence learning. In a two-day experiment, 23 young healthy adults were administered a serial reaction time task (SRTT) following the induction of high or low levels of CF, in a counterbalanced order. CF was induced using the Time load Dual-back (TloadDback) paradigm, a dual working memory task that allows tailoring cognitive load levels to the individual's optimal performance capacity. In line with our hypothesis, reaction times (RT) in the SRTT were faster in the high- than in the low-level fatigue condition, and performance improvement was higher for the sequential than the motor components. Altogether, our results suggest a paradoxical, facilitating impact of CF on procedural motor sequence learning. We propose that facilitated learning in the high-level fatigue condition stems from a reduction in the cognitive resources devoted to cognitive control processes that normally oppose automatic procedural acquisition mechanisms.
Li, F., Jiang, S., Guo, X., Yang, Z, & Dienes, Z. (2013). The nature of the memory buffer in implicit learning: Learning Chinese tonal symmetries. Consciousness and Cognition 22, 920-930
Previous research has established that people can implicitly learn chunks, which (in terms of formal language theory) do not require a memory buffer to process. The present study explores the implicit learning of nonlocal dependencies generated by higher than finite state grammars, specifically, Chinese tonal retrogrades (i.e. centre embeddings generated from a context-free grammar) and inversions (i.e. cross-serial dependencies generated from a mildly context-sensitive grammar), which do require buffers (for example, last in-first out and first in-first out, respectively). People were asked to listen to and memorize artificial poetry instantiating one of the two grammars; after this training phase, people were informed of the existence of rules and asked to classify new poems, while providing attributions of the basis of their judgments. People acquired unconscious structural knowledge of both tonal retrogrades and inversions. Moreover, inversions were implicitly learnt more easily than retrogrades constraining the nature of the memory buffer in computational models of implicit learning.
Although meditation and hypnosis appear to be similar, both in skills demanded (e.g., imaginative involvement) and in their use as therapies, this chapter argues that the two are essentially different. Whereas mindfulness meditation aims to develop accurate meta-awareness, the hypnotic experience results from a lack of awareness of intentions; hypnosis is effectively a form of self-deception. The claim is supported by reviewing evidence that (a) meditators are not very hypnotizable; (b) highly hypnotizable people become aware of their intentions especially late while meditators have awareness
especially early; and (c) meditators show particularly strong intentional binding but highly hypnotizable people do not. We suggest that one path to high hypnotizability is hypofrontality.
Ventura, P., Fernandes, T., Cohen, L., Morais, J., Kolinsky, R., & Dehaene, S. (2013). Literacy acquisition reduces the influence of automatic holistic processing of faces and houses. NeuroScience Letters, 554, 105-109.
Writing was invented too recently to have influenced the human genome. Consequently, reading acqui- sition must rely on partial recycling of pre-existing brain systems. Prior fMRI evidence showed that in literates a left-hemispheric visual region increases its activation to written strings relative to illit- erates and reduces its response to faces. Increasing literacy also leads to a stronger right-hemispheric lateralization for faces. Here, we evaluated whether this reorganization of the brain’s face system has behavioral consequences for the processing of non-linguistic visual stimuli. Three groups of adult illiter- ates, ex-illiterates and literates were tested with the sequential composite face paradigm that evaluates the automaticity with which faces are processed as wholes. Illiterates were consistently more holistic than participants with reading experience in dealing with faces. A second experiment replicated this effect with both faces and houses. Brain reorganization induced by literacy seems to reduce the influence of automatic holistic processing of faces and houses by enabling the use of a more analytic and flexible processing strategy, at least when holistic processing is detrimental to the task.
Kolinsky, R., Morais, J., Cohen, L., Dehaene-Lambertz, G. & Dehaene, S. (2014). L’influence de l’apprentissage du langage écrit sur les aires du langage/The impact of literacy on the language brain areas. Revue de Neuropsychologie, 6, 173-181.
L’acquisition de la lecture et de l’écriture, ou littératie,constitue vraisemblablement l’un des plus puissants instruments de transformation cognitive et cérébrale que nous acquérons au cours de notre vie. Dans cette revue, nous discutons du fait que, en plus de permettre l’acquisition de nouvelles connaissances (par l’intermédiaire de la lecture) et le stockage extérieur de l’information (via les notes manuscrites, les livres, les ordinateurs, etc.), la littéeatie entraîne trois grands types de changements dans les circuits cérébraux du langage. Nous illustrons le fait que l’apprentissage de l’écrit mène non seulement à une activation des aires du langage parlé par l’écrit, mais aussi à des modifications du traitement du langage parlé lui-même, et ce par deux mécanismes. En effet, la littératie améliore le codage phonologique (dans le planum temporale) et conduit, dans certaines situations d’écoute, à une activation « top-down » des représentations orthographiques (dans le cortex occipito-temporal gauche). En outre, l’acquisition de la littératie s’accompagne de changements anatomiques, notamment dans la connectivité intra- et inter-hémisphérique. Pour finir, nous discutons des implications théoriques et pratiques de ces découvertes pour les neuropsychologues.
Kolinsky, R., & Fernandes, T. (2014). A cultural side effect: Learning to read interferes with object identity processing. Frontiers in Psychology. 5: 1224 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01224
Based on the "neuronal recycling hypothesis" (Dehaene and Cohen, 2007), we examined whether reading acquisition has a cost for the recognition of non-linguistic visual materials. More specifically, we checked whether the ability to discriminate between mirror images, which develops through literacy acquisition, interferes with object identity judgments, and whether interference strength varies as a function of the nature of the non-linguistic material. To these aims we presented illiterate, late literate (who learned to read at adult age), and early literate adults with an orientation-independent, identity-based same-different comparison task in which they had to respond “same” to both physically identical and mirrored or plane-rotated images of pictures of familiar objects (Experiment 1) or of geometric shapes (Experiment 2). Interference from irrelevant orientation variations was stronger with plane rotations than with mirror images, and stronger with geometric shapes than with objects. Illiterates were the only participants almost immune to mirror variations, but only for familiar objects. Thus, the process of unlearning mirror-image generalization, necessary to acquire literacy in the Latin alphabet, has a cost for a basic function of the visual ventral object recognition stream, i.e., identification of familiar objects. This demonstrates that neural recycling is not just an adaptation to multi-use but a process of at least partial exaptation.
Kolinsky, R., Monteiro-Plantin, R. S., Mengarda, E. J., Grimm-Cabral, L., Scliar-Cabral, L., & Morais, J. (2014). How formal education and literacy impact on the content and structure of semantic categories. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 3, 106-121. DOI: 10.1016/j.tine.2014.08.001
We examined the hypothesis that formal education and literacy impact the richness and precision of semantic knowledge but not the organization of semantic categories and basic mechanisms of access to them.
In Experiment 1, adults of varying levels of formal education were presented with semantic fluency tests and a superordinate naming task. Experiment 2 examined the impact of reading proficiency on adults of varying degrees of literacy. They were presented with simple semantic, alternating semantic and phonemic fluency tasks, as well as with literacy-related, reasoning and memory tests.
Fluency was analyzed in terms of overall performance, sequential order and speed of responses. Despite lower performance, illiterates and adults with null or limited formal education displayed taxonomic clustering and retrieval by semantic subcategory, as did participants with higher formal education levels. Yet, formal education and literacy slightly speed up access to categories, probably providing useful cues for generating category exemplars.
Kolinsky, R. (2015). How learning to read influences language and cognition. In A. Pollatsek & R. Treiman (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Reading. New York: Oxford University Press (pp. 377-393). doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199324576.013.29.
As illustrated in this handbook, a substantial body of work now exists that examines which factors
and functions affect reading acquisition and reading pro ciency, and which brain areas are involved. The converse relationship—namely, which functions and brain areas are affected by literacy—has received
far less attention, probably because reading acquisition lags speech and vision by several years and because the crucial comparison of illiterate adults with people who learned to read as adults is difficult to undertake. However, this chapter illustrates that learning to read has profound influences on the processing of spoken language and beyond the domain of language, in particular on visual nonlinguistic perception. The chapter discusses research with literate adults in these areas, including the influence of spelling knowledge on speech perception. It also covers research with illiterate adults and on people who first learned to read as adults.