Yang Zhang, PhD

Professor, College of Liberal Arts

Yang Zhang

Contact Info


Office Address:
49 Shevlin Hall
164 Pillsbury Drive SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Professor, College of Liberal Arts

Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences

Center for Neurobehavioral Development

Doctoral Degree, University of Washington (Speech and Hearing Sciences), 2002

Masters Degree, University of Iowa (Psycholinguistics), 1997


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.


Research Summary/Interests

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


  • 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.
  • Zhang, Y., & Wang, Y. (2007). Neural plasticity in speech learning and acquisition. Bilingualism: Language and cognition, 10, 147-160.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.



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