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You are here: Home / Research / Bilingual Sentence Processing and Code-switching Lab

Bilingual Sentence Processing and Code-switching Lab

Primary Investigator: Giuli Dussias

Graduate Students:                                                                                                        
Anne Beatty-Martinez
Lauren Perrotti
Michael Johns
Priscila López Beltrán
Alba García Alonso

Postdoctoral Fellows:
Patricia Román 

Lab Manager:
Michelle Bruni                                                                                                       

Undergraduate Assistants:
Braden Allison
Gyzzelle Brown
Lauren Echols
Cristal Gandara
Akeena Lofters
Frances O'Neill
Maggie Pelella
Ben Simonson
Alejandro Vergara


Former students (last 8 years):

  • Geraldine Blattner (2002-2007). Department of French, Penn State University. Associate Professor, Florida Atlantic University.
  • David Counselman (2006-2010). Department of Spanish, Penn State University. Associate Professor, Ohio Wesleyan.
  • Christopher Botero (2006-2011). Department of Spanish, Penn State University. Associate Professor, Augusta State University.

  • Rosa E. Guzzardo Tamargo (2006-2012). Department of Spanish, Penn State University. Tenure-track position at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.
  • Jorge Valdés Kroff (2006-2012). Department of Spanish, Penn State University. Tenure-track position at University of Florida.
  • Amelia Dietrich (2009-2014). Assitant Director, Digital Resources, Forum on Education Abroad, American Council of Learned Societies.

  • Álvaro, Villegas (2007-2014). Department of Spanish, Penn State University. Tenure-track position at University of Central Florida.

My research program takes a cross-disciplinary approach to bilingual language processing using converging methodological tools from linguistics, experimental psycholinguistics, second language acquisition and cognitive neuroscience. The students in my lab and I conduct experiments to examine the way in which bilingual readers and speakers negotiate the presence of two languages in a single mind. The central question investigated in my lab is whether language-specific information is largely kept independent when bilinguals compute or parse an initial syntactic structure for the sentences they read or hear, or whether information from one language influences parsing decisions in the other language. Findings from our lab lend overwhelming support to experience-accounts of sentence processing. Because of our interest in cognitive aspects of bilingualism and in language contact phenomena, we also study code-switching. Proficient bilinguals often code-switch in the midst of speaking with other bilinguals and the linguistic principles that govern the observed switches have been a focus of debate. Although code-switching performance has been analyzed primarily from the perspective of the bilingual speaker, there are critical consequences for comprehension because unlike production, which is under the control of the speaker, the occurrences of a code-switch during the comprehension of mixed language may be unpredictable. Drawing from methods normally used in psycholinguistics and cognitive neuroscience, we study reading and spoken-language comprehension when bilinguals process mixed language.