Poster A47, Saturday, March 25, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Code-switching in real time: ERP evidence from habitual bilingual code-switchers
Eleonora Rossi1,2, Megan Zirnstein2, Gerrit Jan Kootstra3; 1California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, 2University of California, Riverside, 3Windesheim University of Applied Sciences
Code-switching (i.e., the fluent and natural alternation between a bilingual’s two languages during discourse) is ubiquitous in many bilingual communities. Despite its prevalence, very little is known about its neurophysiological signature. Recent ERP studies show that language switching might be costly, with code-switches eliciting ERP components that have been related to effortful processing and sentence reanalysis, such as the N400, and the P600 (e.g., ;). However, most studies have tested non-habitual code-switchers. Only recently, it has been proposed that habitual code-switchers might engage a wider control network to adapt to specific task demands, and linguistic regularities. Recent fMRI data have supported this hypothesis by showing that habitual code-switchers are differentially sensitive to regularities present in natural code-switching contexts. Here, we tested 19 Spanish-English habitual code-switchers using ERPs. Participants’ EEG was recorded while they saw a picture, presented together with a label describing the object, composed of the determiner and the noun. Stimuli were either non-code-switches (English only and Spanish only), or code-switches (Spanish to English). Crucially, the code-switch condition included both switches that occur frequently in natural language environments (i.e., el dog), and code-switches that have lower frequency of occurrence in natural code-switching contexts (i.e., la dog), as measured by existing Spanish-English code-switching corpora. Overall, results show that the less frequent code-switches elicit a more positive early component (P150), and a later more negative one (N400), reflecting sensitivity to regularities present in natural code-switching contexts, and suggesting a finer-tuned system language switching than previously posited in the literature.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Other