Brainvitge – Brain Mechanisms of Language Learning

ORCID Research Profile


Position: ICREA Research Professor

Contact details


Dr. Ruth de Diego Balaguer

Department of Psicologia Bàsica

Faculty of Psychology, Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron 171

08035 Barcelona (Spain)

+34 93 403 47 68

ruth.dediego (at)…

Research Interests


Comprehending the cognitive processes involved in language learning is of critical importance for our understanding of why under certain conditions language learning is impaired. Language learning research has often offered explanations bounded within the language domain, ignoring the importance of other cognitive functions. Our group uses an integrative approach at the edge of different research fields combining information from brain-damaged patients and imaging in healthy individuals to understand the neural and cognitive mechanisms engaged since the earliest stages of contact with a new language. We are particularly interested in (1) the role of temporal attentional in the acquisition of different aspects of language; (2) the role of the striatum as a brain structure that could make the interface between language and other cognitive functions necessary in the learning process; (3) how is the acquired information consolidated and modified by additional new information.

Current Research Lines


  • Attention and prediction in the acquisition of different aspects of language
  • Cortico-striatal function in the language learning process

Technologies / methods


  • Event-related potentials
  • Tractography
  • Functional MRI

Highlighted publications


· De Diego-Balaguer R., Martinez-Alvarez A., Pons F. (2016). Temporal attention as a scaffold for language development. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 1664.


· López-Barroso D., Ripollés P., Marco-Pallarés J., Mohammadi B., Münte T., Bachoud-Lévi AC. Rodriguez-Fornells A., de Diego-Balaguer R. (2015). Multiple brain nerworks underpinning word learning from fluent speech revealed by independent component analysis. Neuroimage, 110: 182-193.


· López-Barroso, D., Catani, M., Ripollés, P., Dell’Acqua, F., Rodríguez-Fornells, A., De Diego-Balaguer, R. (2013). Word learning is mediated by the left arcuate fasciculus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(32):13168-73.


· De Diego-Balaguer R., Fuentemilla L., Rodríguez-Fornells A. (2011) Brain dynamics sustaining rapid rule-extraction from speech. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 23(10): 3105-20.


· De Diego-Balaguer R., Couette M., Dolbeau G., Dürr A., Youssov K., Bachoud-Lévi A.-C. (2008) Striatal Degeneration impairs Language Learning: Evidence from Huntington’s Disease. Brain, 131 (11), 2870-2881.