Poster Session D, Monday, March 25, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Individual differences in electrophysiological correlates of non-native language comprehension
Sarah Grey1, Annalise Caviasco1, Kathryn Parker1; 1Fordham University
Increasing evidence shows that individuals systematically vary in whether they rely more on semantic or syntactic processes during language comprehension, as shown in variation in N400 and P600 ERP responses (e.g., Tanner & Van Hell, 2014; Kim, Oines, Miyake, 2018). These individual differences have been observed for late-learned non-native language (L2) comprehension (e.g., Grey, 2018; Tanner et al., 2013), but it is unclear whether or how this variability in neurocognitive language processes relates across different L2 structures. In this study, we examined individual differences in N400/P600 responses for different linguistic structures in English native speakers who learned French as a L2. During EEG/ERP acquisition, participants read correct sentences or sentences with errors in French verb aspect, verb tense, gender agreement, or semantics. ERP results indicated that participants showed N400s to semantics and gender agreement. Verb tense elicited what appeared to be a biphasic N400-P600 response whereas verb aspect elicited no significant ERP effects. Inspection of individual differences in ERP patterns using a Response Dominance Index (RDI; Grey, Tanner, & Van Hell, 2017; Tanner & Van Hell, 2014) revealed further details. For both semantics and gender agreement, individual variation was relatively low: most individuals showed N400s which suggests they were quite uniform in relying on lexical/semantic mechanisms to process these structures. For verb tense and aspect, variation was higher, with some individuals showing P600s and others showing N400s. These results have theoretical implications regarding the processing routes that individuals use for different linguistic structures during sentence comprehension in late-learned non-native languages.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Syntax