Executive functioning, brain plasticity and language learning
Matti Laine, PhD, Professor of Psychology
Organizations: Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Åbo Akademi University; Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Turku; Turku PET Centre

This experimental research project focuses at the possibilities and limits of adult learning in two particularly important cognitive domains, namely language learning and high-level cognitive control coined as executive functioning. In language acquisition, we study the earliest stages in learning of new words and their inherent regularities, including orthographic regularities and morphological structure. Both normal healthy adults and individuals with aphasia serve as subjects. Part of the studies will be coupled with structural or functional neuroimaging measurements in order to shed light on the brain correlates of word learning. In executive functioning, we explore the trainability of two executive processes in normal adults, namely inhibition of irrelevant responses and flexible shifting between different task sets. This research should contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of learning of specific aspects of language and executive function, as well as have implications for second language learning, compensation for aging effects, and cognitive retraining.

Senior inverstigators:
  • Minna Lehtonen ,PhD, Docent
  • Petra Grönholm-Nyman, PhD
  • Anna Soveri, PhD
Doctoral students:
  • Jussi Jylkkä, PhD
  • Leena Tuomiranta, PhLic
  • Otto Waris, MA

  • Lars Bäckman, PhD, Professor (Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden)
  • Nadine Martin, PhD, Professor (Department of Communication Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA)
  • Lars Nyberg, PhD, Professor (Radiation Sciences & Integrative Medical Biology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden)
  • Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells, PhD, Research Professor (ICREA and Department of Physiology II, Barcelona University, Barcelona, Spain)
  • Riitta Salmelin, PhD, Academy Professor (Brain Research Unit, Low Temperature Laboratory, Helsinki University of Technology, Espoo, Finland)
  • Juha Rinne, Professor (Turku PET Center, University of Turku)
  • Heikki Hämäläinen, Professor of Psychology, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Turku
  1. Aalto, S., Brück, A., Laine, M., Någren, K., & Rinne, J.O. (2005) Frontal and temporal dopamine release during working memory and attention tasks in healthy humans – a PET study using high-affinity dopamine D2 receptor ligand [11C]FLB 457. Journal of Neuroscience, 25, 2471-2477.
  2. Cunillera, T., Laine, M., Càmara, E., & Rodríguez-Fornells, A. (in press) Bridging the gap between speech segmentation and word-to-world mappings: Evidence from an audiovisual statistical learning task. Journal of Memory and Language.
  3. Hultén, A., Vihla, M., Laine, M., & Salmelin, R. (2009) Accessing newly learned names and meanings in the native language. Human Brain Mapping, 30, 976-989.
  4. Laine, M. & Martin, N. (2006) Anomia: Theoretical and Clinical Aspects. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.
  5. Särkämö, T., Tervaniemi, M., Laitinen, S., Forsblom, A., Soinila, S., Mikkonen, M., Autti, T., Silvennoinen, H.M., Erkkilä, J., Laine, M., Peretz, I., & Hietanen, M. (2008) Music listening enhances cognitive recovery and mood after middle cerebral artery stroke. Brain, 131, 866-876.

Number of publications in 2005-2010: 41 international peer review articles (total) / 8 (IF>5)

Number of PhD degrees completed in 2005-2010: 7

External funding of the research group in 2005-2009: total amount approx. 380 000 euros (Academy of Finland; Nordic Centre of Excellence in Research)