Poster Session F, Tuesday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Syntactic Processing in Bilinguals and Monolinguals: Evidence from Functional Near-infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS)
Guoqin Ding1, Kathleen A. J. Mohr1, Ron Gillam1, Boyu Zhang1, Carla Orellana1, Allison Hancock1; 1Utah State University
This study examined behavioral and neurophysiological data of monolingual and bilingual children to compare mechanisms underlying syntactic processing. Participants included ten English monolinguals (Female=5) and ten Chinese-English bilinguals (Female=5). They received a battery of English tests (including the Grammatical Judgment (GJ) subtest of the CASL-2) and completed a syntactic judgment task during fNIRS scans. Bilingual children received a similar task in Chinese. Auditory stimuli in both languages included two sentence types (Subject-Verb-Object and Passive). The semantic plausibility of the sentences was controlled, so that word order was the only relevant linguistic cue. Participants were asked to select the agent of each sentence. One-way and repeated-measure ANOVAs compared results, which showed that monolinguals performed significantly better than bilinguals on GJ. Both groups performed better on SVO than PAS in English and Chinese, and no significant differences were found between groups. Independent and paired-sampled t-tests of the fNIRS data were used to examine the activation in brain areas. No between-group difference was found for the English tasks. Monolingual children showed no difference between sentence types, but bilingual children showed greater activation in middle pre-frontal cortex (MPFC) for PAS sentences. No difference was found for Chinese tasks. Thus, although monolinguals outperformed bilinguals on an English GJ task, both groups showed very similar levels in accuracy and brain activation patterns on the syntactic judgment task, which may indicate both groups processed English in similar ways. More activation of MPFC for PAS constructions evidenced more cognitive control was required in processing this second language syntax.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Syntax