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LINGUIST List 24.5095

Thu Dec 12 2013

Diss: Psycholinguistics: Brien: 'Neurophysiological Evidence of a Second Language Influencing ...'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <xiyanlinguistlist.org>

Date: 11-Dec-2013
From: Christie Brien <cbrie028uottawa.ca>
Subject: Neurophysiological Evidence of a Second Language Influencing Lexical Ambiguity Resolution in the First Language
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Institution: University of Ottawa
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2013

Author: Christie Anne Brien

Dissertation Title: Neurophysiological Evidence of a Second Language Influencing Lexical Ambiguity Resolution in the First Language

Dissertation URL: http://www.ruor.uottawa.ca/en/handle/10393/26223

Linguistic Field(s): Psycholinguistics

Dissertation Director:
Laura Sabourin

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the effects of acquiring a second language
(L2) on first language (L1) homonym processing by combining Event-Related
brain Potentials (ERP) and a cross-modal lexical-decision task. Currently,
there is a lack of investigations into the effect that a L2 has on
processing in the L1, and whether there is a period at which L2 exposure no
longer affects native-like language processing. As such, my goal is to
pinpoint this period for homonym processing. To achieve this, the first
study employed behavioural measures using a cross-modal lexical-decision
task. The second study employed ERP measures using a novel paradigm
investigating the main objective of this dissertation as well as the second
objective: to be the first to evaluate the combination of a cross-modal
lexical-decision task with ERPs.

The results for the monolingual group support the Reordered Access Model
(Duffy, Morris, & Rayner, 1988), which contrast the results for the
bilingual groups. Bilinguals with French as a L2 show increasing divergence
from monolinguals in L1 homonym processing. Later acquirers exhibit a
greater divergence, even though the task was carried out in L1 English.
This was apparent in behavioural responses and in the amplitude, scalp
distribution, and latency of ERP components. Differences were unique to
each group, supporting the hypothesis that L2 acquisition influences L1
processing (Dussias & Sagarra, 2007). Specifically, the later acquirers
exhibited a marked divergence from the monolinguals in syntactic priming
effects (p<.001) and lexical frequency effects (p<.001). They also revealed
the greatest positive-going ERP waves when processing target words
inappropriately-related to priming homonyms (skin in Richard had a shed in
the back of the garden), suggesting a heightened sensitivity to surface
cues due to the L2 influencing L1 processing (Cook, 2003; Dussias &
Sagarra, 2007). Comparatively, the monolingual group revealed equal ERP
waves for lexical ambiguities overall versus unrelated words, and a
context-by-frequency-interaction slowing processing of target words related
to the lower-frequency reading of priming homonyms, suggesting monolinguals
are not as sensitive to surface cues. Importantly, these results confirm
that combining ERPs with a cross-modal lexical-decision task is a promising
paradigm for language processing studies.

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