University of Minnesota
Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences

Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences's home page.

Yang Zhang

Yang Zhang

Yang Zhang

SLHS 49 Shevlin Hall 164 Pillsbury Dr SE

Department Affiliations


The acquisition of language skills is a quintessential human characteristic reflecting how the brain reinvents itself in endless possibilities through symbolic representations. Despite maturational and age constraints, the brain possesses amazingly versatile computational power to adapt quickly and rewire itself in response to internal changes, structural insult, external stimulation, and learning experience. The overall goal of research in the Zhang Lab is to characterize brain plasticity across the life span and define more clearly what the neural signature markers are for normal and pathological development of speech and language. An integrative approach is pursued: (a) top-down brain imaging in high-density electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG), integrated with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and functional MRI, which quantifies regional temporal and spatial details and cross-region interactions for different levels of information processing in relation to behavioral performance, and (b) bottom-up construction by investigating specific aspects of brain functions/dysfunctions in neural coding and computational modeling, which allows a detailed parameterization of the language input and the learning mechanisms in making the sonic and optical experiences uniquely human in service of communicative functions.


  • auditory neuroscience
  • speech and voice perception
  • learning and cognitive development
  • magnetocephalography (MEG), event-related potentials (ERP), functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 2002.
  • MA: Linguistics (psycholinguistics), University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 1997.


  • Zhang, Y., Kuhl, P. K., Imada, T., Iverson, P., Pruitt, J., Stevens, E., Kawakatsu, M., Tohkura, Y., & Nemoto, I. (2009). Neural signatures of phonetic learning in adulthood: A magnetoencephalography study. Neuroimage, 46, 226-240. Download
  • Zhang, Y., & Wang, Y. (2007). Neural plasticity in speech learning and acquisition. Bilingualism: Language and cognition, 10, 147-160. Download
  • Imada, T., Zhang, Y., Cheour, M., Taulu, S., Ahonen, A., & Kuhl, P. K. (2006). Infant speech perception activates Broca's area: a developmental magnetoencephalography study. Neuroreport, 17, 957-962. Download
  • Zhang, Y., Kuhl, P. K., Imada, T., Kotani, M., & Tohkura, Y. (2005). Effects of language experience: neural commitment to language-specific auditory patterns. Neuroimage, 26, 703-720. Download
  • Zhang, Y., Koerner, T., Miller, S., Grice-Patil, Z., Svec, A., Akbari, D., Tusler, L., & Carney, E. (In press). Neural coding of formant-exaggerated speech in the infant brain. Developmental Science. Download

Courses Taught

  • The Physics and Biology of Spoken Language
  • Introduction to Acoustics
  • Seminar in Speech - NeuroImaging
  • Honors Seminar: Speech, Language and the Brain
  • The Talking Brain
  • Introduction to the Neuroscience of Human Communication
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