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Poster B117

Exploring the Impact of Motivation and Working Memory on Second Language Sentence Processing: An ERP Study

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Nicholas J. Sulier1 (, Judith F. Kroll1; 1University of California, Irvine

Individual differences in motivation and working memory significantly contribute to variation in second language (L2) learning outcomes. However, it remains unclear whether these factors can account for variation in the electrophysiological correlates of L2 sentence processing. In the current study, EEG was recorded while 30 English-speaking learners of Spanish completed a sentence reading task. A battery of individual measures was administered to assess motivation and working memory and to take into account variation in language experience. The question was whether these factors would help explain differential reliance on lexical/semantic (N400) or repair/reanalysis (P600) mechanisms during L2 semantic and grammar processing. Preliminary results showed that higher working memory capacity was related to increased P600 effects during grammatical processing. Lower working memory capacity was related to N400 effects during both semantic and grammatical processing. Finally, an exploratory analysis on interactions between working memory and motivation revealed that learners with lower working memory capacity, but higher motivation, utilized more repair/reanalysis (P600) mechanisms when processing grammatical violations. These results suggest that both cognitive and affective resources contribute to variation in the electrophysiological correlates of L2 sentence processing.

Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Syntax


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April 13–16  |  2024