Poster C51, Sunday, March 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Second-language reading proficiency is related to changes in N170s?
Osamu Takai1, Anthony Herdman1; 1University of British Columbia
Successful reading comprehension requires efficient word recognition, which is generally taught starting with learning single letters. We examined perceptual processing of single letters for late Chinese learners of English with two differing proficiency levels in English: advanced (L2adv) and moderate (L2mod). Monolingual English speakers (L1) were a control group. Participants performed a visual target detection task, while we measured their event-related potentials (ERPs) to alphabetic letters and pseudoletters. The ERP differences evoked by these stimuli were regarded as differences in the participants’ familiarities with each of the stimuli; the more proficient in reading English, the greater the familiarity with letters. Results showed significantly larger and delayed N170 responses to pseudoletters than letters in all groups. Such letter effects were the largest for L1 group bilaterally over parietal-occipital scalp regions (PO7/PO8), moderate for L2adv group predominantly over left parietal-occipital scalp regions, and modestly small for L2mod. In the right-hemisphere, the letter effect between L2adv and L2mod group was compatible. Thus, results revealed a reading-proficiency effect on the N170 whereby the letter effect was in the order of L1 > L2adv > L2mod over the left-hemisphere. We also found P2 differences between letters and psuedoletters, and this effect was L1 > L2adv = L2mod in the right-hemisphere. In conclusion, reading proficiency in a second-language was associated with changes in N170 responses to single letters within the left-hemisphere. These results also indicate that early neural stages of orthographic processing can be altered by learning to read a second language later in life.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Lexicon