Poster B80, Sunday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Adult Second Language Learning and Semantic Integration as Revealed by EEG and Eye-tracking
Kiera O'Neil1, Ana Zappa2, Jean-Marie Pergandi2, Aaron Newman1, Daniel Mestre2,3, Cheryl Frenck-Mestre2,3; 1Dalhousie, 2Aix Marseille Université, 3Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
The current study used a computerized learning paradigm to test second language (L2) learning. Native French speakers learned Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary during a 6-day study. On each of 3 learning days, participants learned 3 verbs and 12 nouns in 30-minute sessions. Both EEG and eye-tracking were used as learning assessments, as it has been argued that combining EEG assessment with eye-tracking can provide a more complete picture of second language processing, given that studies using one or the other method can show different results. We found an N400 effect for mismatch trials compared to correctly matched audio-visual trials at post-training, meanwhile no modulation of the N400 was observed pre-training. More importantly, unlearned images that were semantically related to learned words produced a reduction of the N400 component compared to mismatched pairs. This semantic priming effect suggests that the words in the new language were rapidly integrated with existing semantic networks, rather than existing as an isolated second language lexicon. We also assessed semantic integration via a visual world paradigm in which learned L2 targets were presented in an array with semantically related competitors, and unrelated distractor images. In line with our EEG findings, semantically related images are expected to compete with target items, providing further evidence for rapid integration of L2 words into existing semantic networks. Our results indicate that L2 vocabulary can be rapidly acquired by adult learners and newly acquired vocabulary quickly forms connections to related words within the existing lexicon.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Semantic