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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Validating child-friendly neuroimaging language localizer in adults


Toddlers undergo massive changes in their language abilities, but are almost never studied with awake functional magnetic resonance imaging. For future use in toddlers, we developed two child-friendly, engaging, well-controlled tasks that robustly activate the language network. The first task presents 20-second edited audiovisual clips from Sesame Street: a single puppet addressing the viewer or two puppets speaking to each other, while the auditory speech is played forwards or backwards. The second task presents 1-3 minutes of continuous dialogue, in which the speech of only one character is played in reverse. Twenty adults heard our two novel tasks, along with a validated auditory language localizer (Scott et al, Cognitive Neuroscience, 2017). The same cortical regions were active in our tasks (Forward>Backward speech) as in the localizer (Intact>Degraded). These results validate our new tasks, which we hope will enable cognitive neuroscience studies of language in challenging but important populations, like toddlers.

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