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Native language semantic activation in non-native speech comprehension: Evidence from Event-Related Potentials

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FitzPatrick,  Ian
Language Acquisition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;

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Indefrey,  Peter
Language Acquisition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;

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Citation

FitzPatrick, I., & Indefrey, P. (2009). Native language semantic activation in non-native speech comprehension: Evidence from Event-Related Potentials. Poster presented at 16th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS 2009), San Francisco.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-427C-B
Abstract
Converging evidence suggests that there is language non-selective access to the bilingual lexicon in the domain of written word comprehension. For auditory comprehension the situation is less clear-cut. The current study further investigated the availability of first language (L1) semantic features in second language (L2) speech processing. We recorded EEG from 30 Dutch-English bilinguals who listened to spoken sentences in their L2 (English). Experiment 1 used sentences in which the critical word was a: (a) semantially congruent L2 word, (b) semantically incongruent L2 word, (c) congruent L1 word, or (d) an incongruent L1 word . Incongruent L1 and L2 words elicited a canonical N400 effect. Furthermore, the N400 to congruent L1 words had a substantially earlier offset than the N400 to inconruent L1and L2 words. Experiment 2 the critical word in the sentence was an L1-L2 interlingual homophone. In separate conditions: (a) the L2 meaning, (b) the L1 meaning, or (c) neither meaning was congruent with the sentence context. Whenever the L1 meaning was congruent with the sentence context we observed an N400 with an earlier offest than the N400 to incongruent homophones. When the L2 meaning of the homophone was congruent a negativity emerged, but substantially later than the N400 to incongruent homophones. Taken together these results firstly show that interlingual homophones activate semantic features from L1 and L2, however L1 semantic features become available later. Secondly, while L1 words are not initially available for semantic integration, congruent L1 words are nevertheless eventually successfully integrated.