Poster Session B, Sunday, March 24, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Picture-naming in American Sign Language: an ERP study of the effects of iconicity and alignment
Meghan McGarry1,2, Megan Mott1, Katherine J. Midgley1, Phillip J. Holcomb1, Karen Emmorey1; 1San Diego State University, 2University of California, San Diego
Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) and a picture-naming task were used to investigate the effects of iconicity on sign production in American Sign Language (ASL). Twenty-three deaf ASL signers named pictures with iconic or noniconic signs, and 23 hearing nonsigners served as a control group and named the pictures in English. For the iconic signs we compared an aligned picture condition in which a visually salient feature of the picture aligned with the iconic feature of the sign (e.g., the sign BIRD depicts a bird’s beak and aligns with a picture of a bird with a prominent beak) and a non-aligned picture condition (e.g., a picture of a bird where the beak is not visible). Results showed that the N400 amplitude for iconic signs was more negative than for non-iconic signs, suggesting that the retrieval of iconic signs may activate additional perceptual or sensory-motor features. The ERPs to iconic signs in the picture-aligned condition showed reduced N400 negativity compared to those in the non-aligned condition with a right anterior scalp distribution. This result may constitute a priming effect that occurs when visible features of a picture and a sign overlap. Iconicity and alignment effects were not observed in the hearing nonsigners. Overall, the results indicate that retrieval of iconic signs involves more elaborate processing than retrieving noniconic signs and that the structural alignment between visual features of a to-be-named picture and an iconic sign facilitates lexical retrieval.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Lexicon