Poster F56, Tuesday, March 27, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Neurodevelopmental impact of early bilingual acquisition on children’s syntactic processing.
Neelima Wagley1, Xiaosu Hu1, Alisa Baron2, Akemi Tsutsumi Rioboo1, Isabel Hernandez1, James Booth3, Teresa Satterfield1, Lisa M. Bedore2, Ioulia Kovelman1; 1University of Michigan, 2University of Texas - Austin, 3Vanderbilt University
How does bilingual acquisition influence children’s neural architecture for sentence processing? Language acquisition is characterized by progressive use of inflectional morphology marking verb tense and agreement (“Today he is baking a cake” or “Every day he bakes a cake”). Children’s acquisition of linguistic milestones is also linked to increased neural specialization of the left inferior frontal (IFG) and posterior temporal (STG) regions classically associated with language processing. We used functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) to investigate how bilingual exposure influences children’s cortical organization for processing morpho-syntax. Forty Spanish-English bilingual children growing up in the U.S. (ages 6-10, M = 8) completed grammaticality judgment task that included English sentences with violations in earlier- (verb agreement, -ing omissions) and later-acquired (verb tense/agreement, -ed/s omissions) structures. Children had high dual-language proficiency and were faster and more accurate when processing violations of the earlier- than the later-acquired structures. Neuroimaging analyses revealed robust activations in left frontal channels for correct sentences and earlier-acquired structure violations (-ing), but not the later-acquired structure violations (-ed/s). In contrast, left temporal channels showed robust activation for all sentence types (p < 0.05). The findings parallel those previously found for young monolingual children with earlier neural specialization of the left temporal regions, followed by increased specificity of the frontal regions, especially the dorsal IFG regions considered critical for syntactic processing (Skeide & Friederici, 2016). The findings suggest that early-exposed and highly proficient bilinguals follow a monolingual-like trajectory of neural specialization for language processing in the dominant language of their daily use.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Syntax