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Distinct neural mechanisms support inner speaking and inner hearing


A subjective distinction can be made between inner hearing—invoking speech representations from memory—and inner speaking—simulating the motor act of speech. A TMS study reveals that lip cortical excitability (“MEP”) increases more with inner speaking than with inner hearing, and that this effect is modulated by the phonetic content of what is produced mentally, hence objectivising the phenomenological distinction.

Ladislas Nalborczyk, Marieke Longcamp, Mireille Bonnard, Victor Serveau, Laure Spieser, and F.-Xavier Alario.
2023. Cortex 169: 161–73. —  @HAL.

Guinea Baboons Are Strategic Cooperators

Anthony Formaux, Dan Sperber, Joël Fagot, and Nicolas Claidière.
2023. Science Advances 9 (43): eadi5282  —  @HAL
Humans are strategic cooperators; we make decisions on the basis of costs and benefits to maintain high levels of cooperation, and this is thought to have played a key role in human evolution. In comparison, monkeys and apes might lack the cognitive capacities necessary to develop flexible forms of cooperation. We show that Guinea baboons ( Papio papio ) can use direct reciprocity and partner choice to develop and maintain high levels of cooperation in a prosocial choice task. Our findings demonstrate that monkeys have the cognitive capacities to adjust their level of cooperation strategically using a combination of partner choice and partner control strategies. Such capacities were likely present in our common ancestor and would have provided the foundations for the evolution of typically human forms of cooperation.

Studying Memory Processes at Different Levels with Simultaneous Depth and Surface EEG Recordings

Andrei Barborica, Ioana Mindruta, Víctor J. López-Madrona, F-Xavier Alario, Agnès Trébuchon, Cristian Donos, Irina Oane, Constantin Pistol, Felicia Mihai, and Christian G. Bénar.
2023. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 17: 1154038  —  @HAL

Investigating cognitive brain functions using non-invasive electrophysiology can be challenging due to the particularities of the task-related EEG activity, the depth of the activated brain areas, and the extent of the networks involved. Stereoelectroencephalographic (SEEG) investigations in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy offer an extraordinary opportunity to validate information derived from non-invasive recordings at macro-scales. The SEEG approach can provide brain activity with high spatial specificity during tasks that target specific cognitive processes (e.g. memory). A full validation is possible only when performing simultaneous scalp-SEEG recordings, which allows recording signals in the exact same brain state. This is the approach we have taken in 12 subjects performing a visual memory task that requires the recognition of previously viewed objects. The intracranial signals on 965 contact pairs have been compared to 391 simultaneously-recorded scalp signals at a regional and whole-brain level, using multivariate pattern analysis. The results show that the task conditions are best captured by intracranial sensors, despite the limited spatial coverage of SEEG electrodes, compared to the whole-brain non-invasive recordings. Applying beamformer source reconstruction or independent component analysis does not result in an improvement of the multivariate task decoding performance using surface sensor data. Investigating whether the two I n r e v i e w 2 types of signals carry complementary information that would improve the machine-learning classifier performance, part of the multivariate analysis, revealed that the results are driven by the modality with best separate performance, namely SEEG.

The effect of constituent frequency and distractor type on learning novel complex words

Elisabeth Beyersmann, Jonathan Grainger, Stéphane Dufau, Colas Fournet, and Johannes C. Ziegler.
2023. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, October, 1–14  —  @HAL
The present study explored the role of constituent frequency and distractor type in complex word learning. Skilled readers were trained to associate novel letter strings with one out of two pictures, with one picture serving as the target, and the other as a distractor. A facilitatory effect of first-constituent frequency was found only in trials where distractors promoted firstconstituent learning, and a facilitatory effect of second-constituent frequency only in trials where distractors promoted second-constituent learning, but not vice versa. Learning occurred in the absence of any pre-existing knowledge about the constituent morphemes and any explicit reference to the constituents during learning. The results point to the important role of constituent frequency and distractor type in novel word learning and provide insights into the mechanisms involved in the implicit acquisition of morphological knowledge in adult learners, that we suspect to be a key aspect of language learning in general.

Margherita Giamundo

Margherita Giamundo was awarded a 2023 ILCB post-doc fellowship to work with Pascal Belin (INT), in collaboration with Etienne Thoret (PRISM, INT). Her project will address the question of the encoding of voice identity in the primate brain, focusing on the variation in spiking activity of voice-selective neuronal populations of the temporal cortex. Margherita will use an fMRI-guided electrophysiological approach, thanks to the expertise acquired during her PhD and post-doctorate at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology of the Sapienza University in Rome, and then at the Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone in Marseille. Her project will provide new insights on the neural principles underlying the representation of individual identity in the primate brain.

A Window on Human and Artificial Cognition with Reverse Correlation

Etienne Thoret
2023. Nature Reviews Psychology, September  —  @HAL
Humans are experts in recognition tasks such as recognizing the emotion shown in a face. A central question in psychology is what sensory information humans use to achieve these feats. For instance, researchers might wonder which part of a face allows recognition of the emotions of conspecifics or what type of prosody characterizes trustworthy speech. These are the kind of questions about recognition that cognitive scientists have addressed for hundreds of years.

The Dynamics of Chunking in Humans (Homo Sapiens) and Guinea Baboons (Papio Papio)

Laure Tosatto, Joël Fagot, and Arnaud Rey.
2023. Journal of Comparative Psychology 137 (3): 191–99 — @HAL
Chunking is an important cognitive process allowing the compression of information in short-term memory. The aim of this study is to compare the dynamics of chunking during the learning of a visuo-motor sequence in humans (Homo sapiens) and Guinea baboons (Papio papio). We duplicated in humans an experimental paradigm that has been used previously in baboons. On each trial, human participants had to point to a moving target on a touch screen. The experiment involved the repetition of the same sequence of 9-items over a thousand trials. To reproduce as much as possible the conditions under which baboons performed the task, human participants were tested at their own pace. Results revealed that baboons and humans shared similar chunking dynamics: in both species, the sequence was initially parsed into small chunks that became longer and fewer with practice through two reorganization mechanisms (recombinations and concatenations). Differences were also observed regarding the global decrease in response times that was faster and more pronounced in humans compared to baboons. Analyses of these similarities and differences provide new empirical evidence for understanding the general properties of chunking mechanisms in sequence learning and its evolution across species.

Clara Bourot

Clara Bourot was awarded a 2023 ILCB PhD grant, to work with Laurence Reboul (I2M), in collaboration with Arnaud Rey (LPC), and Jean-Marc Freyermuth (I2M), to apply statistical modeling of the developmental trajectory of babies’ vocal productions between 0 and 12 months. Clara obtained Bachelor and Master degrees in Mathematics at Aix-Marseille University, and she developed an interest to the application of statistics in cognitive science, more specifically on the study of language. Her thesis work will focus on the evolution of vocal production over the first 12 months of life in a sample of children. The aim will be to develop a statistical model to account for the presence of different vocal categories produced at each month, as well as the relationship between these categories. This work should enable us to propose new methods for representing and understanding language development in human babies.