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See detailVerbal Working Memory but Not Attention Is Related to Language Proficiency: Evidence from Multilingual Speakers
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Barbu, Cristina ULiege; Majerus, Steve ULiege

in Psychologica Belgica (2020), 60(1), 270-293

Numerous studies have shown a consistent relationship between verbal working memory (WM) and native-language as well as non-native language learning abilities. However, the role of attentional abilities ... [more ▼]

Numerous studies have shown a consistent relationship between verbal working memory (WM) and native-language as well as non-native language learning abilities. However, the role of attentional abilities has been rarely explored, although these abilities have been shown to be associated both with verbal working memory and oral language proficiency. This study investigated the association between WM, attention and language proficiency in young adults raised with three different languages (Luxembourgish, German and French). Auditory-verbal WM abilities were assessed via an immediate serial recall task. Attentional abilities were assessed via auditory-verbal and visuo-spatial attentional tasks. Using a Bayesian correlational approach, we observed robust evidence for an association between auditory-verbal WM abilities and non-native language proficiency. At the same time, we observed no reliable evidence in favor of an association between language proficiency and auditory-verbal/visuo-spatial attentional measures. These results suggest that auditory-verbal WM and non-native language proficiency are strongly linked in young multilingual adults, irrespective of auditory-verbal or visuo-spatial attentional abilities. [less ▲]

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See detailPrecision of neural codes involved in storing phonological information in working memory
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Kowialiewski, Benjamin ULiege; Attout, Lucie ULiege et al

Poster (2020, September 03)

Working memory (WM) precision is defined as the quality with which representations are stored in WM, and has to be distinguished from WM capacity, which is the quantity of information that can be ... [more ▼]

Working memory (WM) precision is defined as the quality with which representations are stored in WM, and has to be distinguished from WM capacity, which is the quantity of information that can be maintained in WM. This study is the first to assess the neural precision of WM traces for auditory-verbal information, using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) approach. In this experiment, we asked 27 young adults to actively maintain 4-syllable nonwords during a 7-second interval. The nonwords were highly similar or dissimilar at the phonological level. Using multivariate voxel pattern analysis (MVPA), we explored the neural patterns associated with each nonword. We hypothesized that if auditory-verbal WM precision is limited, as indicated by the well-established phonological similarity effect in the WM literature, then dissimilar but not similar nonwords should be associated with distinctive neural patterns during WM, especially during the maintenance stage. Using Bayesian one sample t-tests on whole-brain classification accuracies, we observed that neural decoding of similar nonwords was at chance level, while neural decoding of dissimilar nonwords was clearly above chance during the maintenance stage. Searchlight analyses showed that the informative neural patterns were located in the dorsal language pathway known to support phonological processing. These results provide evidence for the neural basis of the phonological similarity effect in WM and the limited precision of phonological coding in WM. [less ▲]

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See detailPrecision of neural representations supporting auditory-verbal working memory.
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Kowialiewski, Benjamin ULiege; Attout, Lucie ULiege et al

Poster (2020, May 27)

Working memory (WM) precision is defined as the quality with which representations are stored in WM, and has to be distinguished from WM capacity, which is the quantity of information that can be ... [more ▼]

Working memory (WM) precision is defined as the quality with which representations are stored in WM, and has to be distinguished from WM capacity, which is the quantity of information that can be maintained in WM. This study is the first to assess the neural precision of WM traces for auditory-verbal information, using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) approach. In this experiment, we asked 27 young adults to actively maintain 4-syllable nonwords during a 7-second interval. The nonwords were highly similar or dissimilar at the phonological level. Using multivariate voxel pattern analysis (MVPA), we explored the neural patterns associated with each nonword. We hypothesized that if auditory-verbal WM precision is limited, as indicated by the well-established phonological similarity effect in the WM literature, then dissimilar but not similar nonwords should be associated with distinctive neural patterns during WM maintenance. Using Bayesian one sample t-tests on whole-brain classification accuracies, we observed that neural decoding of similar nonwords was at chance level, while neural decoding of dissimilar nonwords was clearly above chance during the maintenance stage. Searchlight analyses showed that the informative neural patterns were located in the dorsal language pathway known to support phonological processing. These results provide evidence for the neural basis of the phonological similarity effect in WM and the limited precision of phonological coding in WM. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluation de la précision de la mémoire de travail phonologique dans une population bilingue
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Majerus, Steve ULiege

Conference (2019, December 10)

La précision de la mémoire de travail (MT) auditivo-verbale, définie comme la résolution avec laquelle les représentations langagières sont stockées en MT, ainsi que la variation des niveaux de précision ... [more ▼]

La précision de la mémoire de travail (MT) auditivo-verbale, définie comme la résolution avec laquelle les représentations langagières sont stockées en MT, ainsi que la variation des niveaux de précision en fonction de la maîtrise langagière, sont des aspects fondamentaux mais peu étudiés de la MT. Notre étude visait à évaluer la précision de la MT dans la première (L1) et deuxième (L2) langue de sujets bilingues à l’aide d’un gradient de similarité phonologique dans une tâche de reconnaissance à court terme. Nous avons recruté deux groupes incluant chacun 25 participants bilingues français-anglais, ayant comme L1 le français ou l’anglais. Des listes de mots étaient présentées auditivement, et à l’issue de chaque liste, un mot-test était présenté ; les participants devaient alors déterminer si ce mot avait été présent dans la liste. Les items-tests négatifs partageaient des niveaux de similarité phonologique variables avec un mot-cible de la liste (25% - 75% de similarité). La tâche était réalisée en L1 et en L2. La précision a été évaluée en comparant la condition phonologiquement la plus similaire aux autres conditions. Bien que le taux de fausses alarmes était globalement plus élevé dans la condition de forte similarité, les performances ne chutaient pas plus quand la tâche était réalisée en L2. Ces résultats suggèrent que la précision du codage en MT verbale est similaire en L1 et en L2, du moins lorsque les deux langues présentent un niveau de maîtrise comparable. [less ▲]

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See detailAssessing phonetic and phonological working memory precision
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Majerus, Steve ULiege

Poster (2019, September 26)

Only few studies have investigated auditory-verbal working memory (WM) precision, which is the resolution at which verbal items are maintained in WM. The aim of this study was to explore WM precision ... [more ▼]

Only few studies have investigated auditory-verbal working memory (WM) precision, which is the resolution at which verbal items are maintained in WM. The aim of this study was to explore WM precision using a phonetic-phonological similarity gradient in a recognition task. Lists of non-words were presented auditorily. After each list, a probe non-word was presented, and participants had to decide whether or not that item had been in the list. At the phonetic level, we modified the onset of the initial phoneme of one of the memoranda to render it phonetically ambiguous. At the phonological level, probe items differed from the memoranda by close (/p/-/b/) or more distinct (/p/-/t/) phonological contrasts. We observed an influence of both phonetic and phonological contrasts, which furthermore interacted with the serial position of the memoranda. This study suggests that WM precision is influenced by the level of linguistic abstraction and by serial position. [less ▲]

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See detailHow precise are verbal working memory representations? Evidence from phonological and semantic similarity
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Majerus, Steve ULiege

Conference (2019, May 14)

In contrast with the visual working memory (WM) domain, the notion of WM precision has been poorly explored in the verbal WM domain. WM precision is defined as the resolution at which items are ... [more ▼]

In contrast with the visual working memory (WM) domain, the notion of WM precision has been poorly explored in the verbal WM domain. WM precision is defined as the resolution at which items are represented in WM, in addition to the quantity of items that can be maintained. In this study, which included 51 young adults, we assessed the sensitivity to different degrees of phonological (Task 1) and semantic (Task 2) proximity between memory and probe items as a potential index of verbal WM precision. In both tasks, the participants were presented auditory lists of 6 words. After each list, a probe word was presented, and the participants had to decide whether or not it had been in the list. In Task 1, negative probes showed different degrees of phonological proximity with the target memoranda, while in Task 2, negative probes showed different degrees of semantic proximity with the target item. Using Bayesian ANOVA, we observed robust evidence for a gradual influence of phonological proximity on recognition performance. This was also observed, although to a lesser extent, for semantic proximity. This study indicates that phonological and semantic proximity may be promising tools for exploring WM precision in the verbal domain. [less ▲]

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See detailPhonological similarity as an index of short-term memory precision in monolingual and trilingual speakers
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Majerus, Steve ULiege

Conference (2018, December 16)

Short-term memory (STM) precision has been defined as the resolution with which items are maintained in STM (Joseph et al., 2015). It has to be distinguished from STM capacity, which refers to the number ... [more ▼]

Short-term memory (STM) precision has been defined as the resolution with which items are maintained in STM (Joseph et al., 2015). It has to be distinguished from STM capacity, which refers to the number of items that are recalled in STM (Miller, 1956; Cowan, 2010). So far, this concept has received little interest in the verbal STM domain. In two studies, we assessed the sensitivity to different degrees of phonological similarity between memory and probe items as a potential index of verbal STM precision. In Study 1, we assessed STM precision in 60 monolingual, French-speaking young adults. In Study 2, we aimed at taking advantage from the potential differences in STM precision stemming from differing language representations in 35 speakers of German, French, and English. In both studies, participants were presented auditory lists of 6 words. After a delay, a probe was presented, and participants had to decide whether it had been in the list or not. Negative probes showed different degrees of phonological proximity with the target word in the memory list. In Study 1, the lists were presented only in French, while in Study 2, the participants carried out the task in German, French and English. We also assessed comprehension and production of these three languages. Using Bayesian repeated measures ANOVA, we observed in both studies decisive evidence for an influence of phonological proximity on STM probe recognition performance: the more similar the negative probes to the target word, the higher the rate of false recognition. Study 2 revealed additionally that this effect was maintained across languages and that performance correlated positively with language proficiency, the best scores being reached in L1. Finally, we observed significant inter-individual variability in the sensitivity to phonological proximity. These studies suggest that memory-probe phonological similarity is an important variable for the development of measures of STM precision in the verbal domain and is stable across the languages spoken at different levels of mastery. [less ▲]

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See detailPrécision phonétique et phonologique en mémoire à court terme verbale
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Majerus, Steve ULiege

Conference (2018, November 29)

Peu de paradigmes évaluent la précision des représentations maintenues en mémoire à court terme (MCT), réduisant l’évaluation de la MCT à des scores dichotomiques basés sur le nombre d’items que l’on est ... [more ▼]

Peu de paradigmes évaluent la précision des représentations maintenues en mémoire à court terme (MCT), réduisant l’évaluation de la MCT à des scores dichotomiques basés sur le nombre d’items que l’on est capable de restituer, et nous informant très peu sur la nature et la qualité des représentations maintenues. L’objectif de cette étude était de développer un paradigme évaluant la précision des représentations en MCT selon un gradient phonétique-phonologique. Dans ce paradigme, nous avons présenté des listes de non-mots. A l’issue de chaque liste, un non-mot test était présenté, et les participants devaient déterminer si celui-ci avait été présent dans la liste ou non. Au niveau phonétique, nous avons présenté comme non-mot test un non-mot issu de la liste (non-mot cible) dont nous avions modifié le voice onset time (VOT) au niveau du phonème initial afin de le rendre ambigu. Au niveau phonologique, nous avons opposé, entre non-mots cibles et tests, des contrastes phonologiques proches (/p/-/b/) ou plus éloignés (/p/-/t/). Nous avons observé un effet à la fois des contrastes phonétique et phonologiques sur les performances de reconnaissance. De manière importante, l’effet du contraste phonétique ne se manifestait que pour des non-mots cibles présentés en dernière position sérielle. Ces données suggèrent que les informations en MCT sont maintenues avec des niveaux de précision et d’abstraction linguistique différents selon le moment auquel elles ont été encodées. [less ▲]

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See detailRole of phonological discrimination and inhibition in a short-term memory precision task in young and older adults
Gregoire, Coline ULiege; Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Fay, Séverine et al

Poster (2018, June 15)

Short-term memory (STM) precision is defined as the resolution at which items are stored in STM. It has to be distinguished from STM capacity which is characterized by a binary dimension: items are ... [more ▼]

Short-term memory (STM) precision is defined as the resolution at which items are stored in STM. It has to be distinguished from STM capacity which is characterized by a binary dimension: items are recalled or forgotten. STM precision refers to the notion that all items are available in memory, but their representation varies in terms of accuracy. Few studies have considered verbal STM precision and none of them has investigated STM precision from a lifespan perspective neither its links with inhibition capacity. The present study assessed young and elderly adults’ sensitivity to gradients of phonological similarity between target and probe items in a short-term recognition task. Moreover, executive tests (Stroop, Plus Minus, N-Back) and a discrimination task using the same items as the main STM precision task were administered. Using ANOVA, we observed strong evidence for a graded influence of phonological similarity on STM probe recognition. No age effect was observed, which suggest that phonological precision assessed in an auditory recognition task is stable across adulthood. We further investigate if executive functions and auditory discrimination explain performances when target and probe items are phonologically close. Using Multiple Linear Regression, results indicated that auditory discrimination and inhibition appeared to be the main predictors of incorrect recognition when probe items are phonologically highly similar to target items. This study suggests that phonological similarity is a useful variable for the investigation of the concept of precision in verbal STM. It further indicates that the precision of verbal STM coding could be preserved in aging, at least at the phonological level. This study rises interrogations on the role of inhibition in STM precision. [less ▲]

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See detailWhat did I just hear? Phonological similarity as an index of short-term memory precision for words and nonwords
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Majerus, Steve ULiege

Conference (2018, May 18)

The concept of short-term memory (STM) precision has been defined as the resolution at which items are maintained and represented in STM (Joseph et al., 2015). It has to be distinguished from STM capacity ... [more ▼]

The concept of short-term memory (STM) precision has been defined as the resolution at which items are maintained and represented in STM (Joseph et al., 2015). It has to be distinguished from STM capacity, which refers to the number of items that are recalled in a STM task. So far, the concept of STM precision has received very little interest in the verbal STM domain. In two studies, we assessed the sensitivity to different degrees of phonological similarity between memory and probe items as a potential index of verbal STM precision at a lexical and sublexical level. In Study 1, 60 young adults had to maintain auditory lists of 6 words. In Study 2, 20 young adults had to maintain single four-syllable nonwords. After a delay, a probe stimulus was presented, and participants had to decide whether it matched one of stimuli in the list (Study 1), or whether it matched the stimulus to-be-maintained (Study 2). For each study, negative probes showed different degrees of phonological proximity with the target. Using Bayesian ANOVA, we observed robust evidence for an influence of phonological proximity on probe recognition performance: the more similar the negative probes to the target item, the higher the rate of false recognition and the slower the response times. Critically, we observed significant interindividual variability in sensitivity to phonological proximity. Overall, the variation of target-probe phonological similarity along a continuum may be a promising experimental procedure for studying the concept of STM precision in the verbal domain. [less ▲]

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See detailCortico-Cerebellar Pathways for Understanding Language Coordination
Dumitru, Magdalena ULiege; Van Calster, Laurens ULiege; Bouffier, Marion ULiege et al

Poster (2018, March 25)

included

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See detailThe dorsal attention network reflects both encoding load and top-down control during working memory
Majerus, Steve ULiege; Péters, Frédéric; Bouffier, Marion ULiege et al

in Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2018), 30

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See detailLa similarité phonologique comme indice de la précision de la mémoire à court terme verbale
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Majerus, Steve ULiege

Conference (2017, December 12)

The concept of short-term memory (STM) precision has been defined as the resolution with which items are maintained in STM (Joseph et al., 2015). It has to be distinguished from STM capacity, which refers ... [more ▼]

The concept of short-term memory (STM) precision has been defined as the resolution with which items are maintained in STM (Joseph et al., 2015). It has to be distinguished from STM capacity, which refers to the number of items that are recalled in a STM task. The latter notion is binary; a stimulus is either recalled or forgotten. On the other hand, the concept of STM precision suggests that items activated in STM may differ with respect to the resolution at which they are represented. So far, this concept has received very little interest in the verbal STM domain. The present study assessed interindividual differences in the sensitivity to different degrees of phonological similarity between memory and probe items as a potential index of verbal STM precision. 60 young adults were presented auditory lists of 6 words. After a delay, a probe was presented, and participants had to decide whether it had been in the list or not. Negative probes showed different degrees of phonological proximity with the target word in the memory list. Using Bayesian repeated measures ANOVA, we observed very strong evidence for an influence of phonological proximity on STM probe recognition performance: the more similar the negative probes to the target word, the higher the rate of false recognition. Critically, we observed significant interindividual variability in the sensitivity to the phonological proximity of distractors. This study suggests that memory-probe phonological similarity is an important variable for the development of measures of STM precision in the verbal domain. [less ▲]

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See detailLaterality patterns for Gestalts of language
Dumitru, Magdalena ULiege; Van Calster, Laurens ULiege; Bouffier, Marion ULiege et al

Poster (2017, September 07)

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See detailPhonological similarity as an index of short-term memory precision
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Majerus, Steve ULiege

Poster (2017, September 06)

The concept of short-term memory (STM) precision has been defined as the resolution with which items are maintained in STM (Joseph et al., 2015). It has to be distinguished from STM capacity, which refers ... [more ▼]

The concept of short-term memory (STM) precision has been defined as the resolution with which items are maintained in STM (Joseph et al., 2015). It has to be distinguished from STM capacity, which refers to the number of items that are recalled in a STM task. The latter notion is binary; a stimulus is either recalled or forgotten. On the other hand, the concept of STM precision suggests that items activated in STM may differ with respect to the resolution at which they are represented. The concept of STM precision has been studied in the visual STM domain but has received very little interest in the verbal STM domain. The present study assessed interindividual differences in the sensitivity to different degrees of phonological similarity between memory and probe items as a potential index of verbal STM precision. 60 young adults were presented auditory lists of 6 words. After a delay, a probe was presented, and the participants had to decide whether it had been in the list or not. Negative probes showed different degrees of phonological proximity with the target word in the memory list. Using Bayesian repeated measures ANOVA, we observed very strong evidence for an influence of phonological proximity on STM probe recognition performance: the more similar the negative probes to the target word, the higher the rate of false recognition. Critically, at an interindividual level, we observed significant variability in the sensitivity to the phonological proximity of distractors: some participants were very consistently misled by the distractors as a function of phonological proximity, while other participants showed very poor sensitivity to phonological proximity indicating that their memory representations had a low level of phonological resolution. This study suggests that memory-probe phonological similarity is an important variable for the development of measures of STM precision in the verbal domain. [less ▲]

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See detailA study of the links between trilingualism, short term memory and attentional control
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Barbu, Cristina ULiege; Majerus, Steve ULiege

Poster (2017, May 31)

Some studies observed a cognitive advantage in bilingual/multilingual speakers, while other studies have recently questioned the existence of such an advantage. The aim of this study was to assess the ... [more ▼]

Some studies observed a cognitive advantage in bilingual/multilingual speakers, while other studies have recently questioned the existence of such an advantage. The aim of this study was to assess the potential cognitive advantages of trilingualism, by focusing on two cognitive functions that have been rarely explored in the context of multilingualism while being strongly recruited during language learning and processing, namely auditory-verbal short term memory and attention. In 51 participants raised in Luxembourg and speaking at least three languages (Luxembourgish, German, French), auditory-verbal short term memory abilities were assessed via immediate serial recall tasks while attentional abilities were assessed via auditory-verbal running spans under different attentional control demands. Using Bayesian regression analysis, we observed strong evidence for an association between trilingual language proficiency and auditory-verbal short term memory as well as attentional abilities, while controlling for general intellectual efficiency. This study suggests that auditory-verbal short-term memory and attention are important candidate cognitive functions for the exploration of the potential cognitive advantages associated with the study and mastery of multiple languages. [less ▲]

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See detailExploration des liens entre la mémoire à court terme, l'attention et le multlinguisme
Bouffier, Marion ULiege; Barbu, Cristina ULiege; Majerus, Steve ULiege

Poster (2017, April 10)

Alors que de nombreuses études ont observé un avantage cognitif lié à la pratique bilingue ou multilingue, d’autres études récentes ont remis en question l’existence d’un tel avantage. Le but de la ... [more ▼]

Alors que de nombreuses études ont observé un avantage cognitif lié à la pratique bilingue ou multilingue, d’autres études récentes ont remis en question l’existence d’un tel avantage. Le but de la présente recherche était d’investiguer les avantages cognitifs potentiels du trilinguisme en examinant la mémoire à court terme et l’attention auditivo-verbales. En effet, bien que ces fonctions cognitives soient largement sollicitées dans le cadre de l’apprentissage et du traitement du langage, elles n’ont que rarement été explorées dans le cadre du multilinguisme. Ainsi, nous avons recruté 51 participants luxembourgeois âgés de 18-32 ans et maîtrisant au moins trois langues (le luxembourgeois, l’allemand et le français). Nous avons évalué les capacités de mémoire à court terme auditivo-verbales avec un test de rappel sériel immédiat, tandis que les capacités attentionnelles ont été mesurées via des tâches de running span auditivo-verbales sous diverses conditions de contrôle attentionnel. A l’aide d’analyses de régression Bayésiennes, nous avons constaté l’existence d’un lien important entre le niveau de maîtrise des trois langues et les performances aux tâches de mémoire à court terme et d’attention auditivo-verbales, et ce en contrôlant l’effet de l’intelligence générale. Ces résultats suggèrent donc que les avantages cognitifs liés au multilinguisme s'expriment de manière particulièrement nette au niveau de la mémoire à court terme et de l'attention auditivo-verbales. [less ▲]

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See detailThe dorsal attention network supports working memory control in a modality specific manner.
Majerus, Steve ULiege; Cowan, Nelson; Peters, Frédéric ULiege et al

Conference (2016, August 31)

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See detailNonbelieved memories in middle-aged and older adults
Brédart, Serge ULiege; Bouffier, Marion ULiege

in Consciousness and Cognition (2016), 42(2), 352-357

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