Date of Award

Spring 2021

Project Type


Program or Major

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Amy E Ramage

Second Advisor

Jill Thorson

Third Advisor

Kirrie J Ballard


Implicit learning is the unconscious extraction of rules governing complex stimuli, measured through experiments such as artificial grammar tasks, and is directly related to natural language learning. While several theories address the underlying framework for implicit learning, few studies have shed light on a consensus neural network involved in implicit learning. The short-term goal of this thesis is to further elucidate the brain regions involved in implicit learning of linguistic stimuli. The long-range goal of this research program is to understand how implicit learning and the brain regions associated with it relate to language learning and treatment outcomes in individuals with aphasia. A coordinate-based meta-analysis of 25 studies using implicit language learning tasks was completed. Activation likelihood estimate (ALE) results show significant activation in the bilateral inferior frontal gyri, bilateral insula, left supplemental motor area, right precentral gyrus, right middle cingulate, right middle occipital gyrus, and right inferior parietal lobule. The inferior frontal gyrus is discussed as a general rule-processing and error detection mechanism, and other regional activations are discussed related to their involvement in a cognitive control network. Cognitive control may be seen as an underlying mechanism for successful implicit learning and may be clinically relevant as a target for language intervention to scaffold syntax comprehension.