CLS Speaker Series - Laura Sabourin (University of Ottowa) The Bilingual Mental Lexicon: An ERP Masked Priming Investigation
The Bilingual Mental Lexicon: An ERP Masked Priming Investigation
Research on the mental representations of language and how it is processed by the bilingual brain is an important aspect of not only understanding linguistic processes but also for understanding neural organization. It is still under debate whether bilingual and monolingual language processing make use of similar neural networks. One major reason for the uncertainty is due to the numerous types of bilinguals used in research. For example, studies have tested early bilinguals, late bilinguals, second-language (L2) learners (considered as bilinguals), bilinguals whose languages are typologically related, and bilinguals whose languages are not related. The research presented here will contribute to rectifying this. This study investigates the role of age of L2 immersion (AoI) on the organization of the bilingual mental lexicon. Our behavioural research has demonstrated that both early and simultaneous bilinguals show evidence of an integrated lexicon while late bilinguals and second language learners (functional monolinguals) do not (Sabourin, Brien & Burkholder, 2014). However, later research investigating manner of L2 acquisition (MoA), showed that late learners with a naturalistic MoA did show evidence of an integrated bilingual lexicon (Sabourin, Leclerc, Burkholder & Brien, 2014). To further understand these results we are currently combining Event-Related brain Potentials (ERPs) with a masked priming paradigm to examine early, automatic lexical processing at the semantic level by testing both a within-language semantic priming condition as well as a cross-language translation condition. Four groups of participants were tested: 1) English native speakers with minimal exposure to French (Functional Monolinguals; N=20); 2) English-French bilinguals whose initial immersion in French was from age 7 or later (Late Bilinguals; N=9); 3) English-French bilinguals whose initial immersion in French was before age 7 (Early Bilinguals; N=23); and 4) Simultaneous English-French bilinguals (N=12). Using this ERP data we hope to further support and build upon our claims concerning bilingual lexical organization.