Viewpoint: What Brain Research Can Tell Us About Accent Modification The field of brain research has made numerous advances in the past few decades into how we learn new motor skills, from the value of sleep to the discovery of “mirror neurons,” which fire when we watch others performing movements we are attempting to learn. Accent modification may be conceptualized ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2013
Viewpoint: What Brain Research Can Tell Us About Accent Modification
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Catherine L. Ojakangas
    Accent-American, Chicago, IL
  • Financial Disclosure: Catherine L. Ojakangas is Founder and Director of Accent-American.
    Financial Disclosure: Catherine L. Ojakangas is Founder and Director of Accent-American.×
  • Nonfinancial Disclosure: Catherine L. Ojakangas has previously published in the subject area.
    Nonfinancial Disclosure: Catherine L. Ojakangas has previously published in the subject area.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Articles
Article   |   December 01, 2013
Viewpoint: What Brain Research Can Tell Us About Accent Modification
SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations, December 2013, Vol. 20, 101-108. doi:10.1044/cds20.3.101
SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations, December 2013, Vol. 20, 101-108. doi:10.1044/cds20.3.101

The field of brain research has made numerous advances in the past few decades into how we learn new motor skills, from the value of sleep to the discovery of “mirror neurons,” which fire when we watch others performing movements we are attempting to learn. Accent modification may be conceptualized as a form of sensorimotor skill learning – learning to produce a set of movement components and performing them as a whole automatically in spontaneous speech. Motor skill learning occurs in stages and motor habits are formed after acquisition of the new behavior, consolidation of the new brain patterns, and automatic production in appropriate settings. New neural pathways are formed and both cortical and subcortical brain regions participate. The author of this article reviews concepts from the neuroscience literature in the field of motor skill acquisition, work which has primarily focused on the learning of arm and finger movements, and attempts to apply them in a practical manner for the clinician working with non-native English speakers. Discussed are the neurophysiology of motor skill learning, stages of habit formation, intermittent practice, sleep, feedback, mirror neurons and motor imagery. Practical suggestions are given to optimize the accent modification process for the clinician and client.

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