Poster C52, Sunday, March 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Cross-language interaction in auditory and visual word processing in bilinguals: Electrophysiological and behavioral evidence
Katharine Donnelly Adams1, Fatemeh Abdollahi1, Ping Li1, Janet G. van Hell1; 1The Pennsylvania State University
Research with proficient bilinguals indicates that both languages are activated during lexical processing, even when bilinguals process words in only one language. Evidence for this cross-language lexical activation comes from studies showing that cognates (words that share semantics, phonology, and orthography across languages) are read faster than noncognates (Van Hell & Tanner, 2012). Previous studies typically presented cognates and noncognates visually. Recently, we presented cognates and noncognates in a behavioral auditory and visual lexical decision task, testing proficient bilinguals, and observed a cognate facilitation effect in visual but not in auditory lexical decision. This suggests that bilinguals can use language-specific auditory cues to direct processing towards one language only. In two ERP experiments, we examined the neural time course of cross-language activation during visual and auditory lexical processing, and the role of language-specific auditory cues. English beginning learners of Spanish read (Exp.1) or listened to (Exp.2) cognates and noncognates presented in Spanish or English while performing a go-no go task. Results for the visual presentation showed a delayed N400 for the Spanish words, which was more negative for noncognates (larger N400) than cognates. Visual presentation of English words showed a small increased negativity (N400) for noncognates relative to cognates. In the auditory presentations, there were no differences between cognates and noncognates in either language. These results indicate that mode of presentation (visual or auditory) modulates the co-activation of languages, and that early L2 learners employ phonological cues to constrain lexical access to only one language, similar to more proficient bilinguals.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Lexicon