Poster E74, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Native language proficiency modulates spatial characteristics and magnitude of neural responses to phrase-structure violations: An MEG study
Lyam Bailey1, Lisa J. Beck1, Morgan Johnson1, Tim Bardouille1, Aaron J. Newman1; 1Dalhousie University
Past analyses of the neural correlates of sentence processing have largely been based on the assumption that native language (L1) users show homogeneity in language proficiency, and in corresponding brain activity. However, a growing body of research has shown that proficiency is not homogeneous among L1 users, and that variability in this — and other cognitive factors — could influence the way in which each individual processes language. Recent research from our lab and others indicates that components of the event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited during sentence processing vary between individuals as a function of language proficiency and other cognitive factors. The current investigation used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate individual differences in the neural correlates of syntactic processing. We recruited 20 demographically diverse participants exhibiting a range of scores on tests of language and cognition. At the whole-group level, sentences containing phrase structure violations (for example, ‘I banana the ate’ vs. ‘I ate the banana’) elicited expected modulation of the MEG signal — equivalent to the P600 effect typically seen in ERP studies of similar design. Individual participant scores on the listening grammar and speaking grammar components of the Test of Adult & Adolescent Language (TOAL-3), a standardised measure of L1 proficiency, were positively correlated with amplitude change in the MEG signal. Moreover, higher scores on the speaking grammar component were associated with increased lateralisation of activity to the left hemisphere. These results further demonstrate that individual differences modulate neural activity underlying certain cognitive processes.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Syntax