Back to overview

Global and localized network characteristics of the resting brain predict and adapt to foreign language learning in older adults

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author KlieschMaria, BeckerRobert, Hervais-AdelmanAlexis,
Project Exploring audio-motor integration: a novel approach to overcoming hearing impairment
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Scientific Reports
Page(s) online
Title of proceedings Scientific Reports
DOI 10.1038/s41598-022-07629-y

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Resting brain (rs) activity has been shown to be a reliable predictor of the level of foreign language (L2) proficiency younger adults can achieve in a given time-period. Since rs properties change over the lifespan, we investigated whether L2 attainment in older adults (aged 64–74 years) is also predicted by individual differences in rs activity, and to what extent rs activity itself changes as a function of L2 proficiency. To assess how neuronal assemblies communicate at specific frequencies to facilitate L2 development, we examined localized and global measures (Minimum Spanning Trees) of connectivity. Results showed that central organization within the beta band (~ 13–29.5 Hz) predicted measures of L2 complexity, fluency and accuracy, with the latter additionally predicted by a left-lateralized centro-parietal beta network. In contrast, reduced connectivity in a right-lateralized alpha (~ 7.5–12.5 Hz) network predicted development of L2 complexity. As accuracy improved, so did central organization in beta, whereas fluency improvements were reflected in localized changes within an interhemispheric beta network. Our findings highlight the importance of global and localized network efficiency and the role of beta oscillations for L2 learning and suggest plasticity even in the ageing brain. We interpret the findings against the background of networks identified in socio-cognitive processes.