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Neural processing of morphosyntactic tonal cues in second-language learners

Gosselke Berthelsen, Sabine LU ; Horne, Merle LU ; Brännström, Jonas LU ; Shtyrov, Yury LU and Roll, Mikael LU (2018) In Journal of Neurolinguistics 45. p.60-78
Abstract

The morphosyntactic nature of word accents in Swedish makes them a perfect candidate for the study of predictive processing in language. The association of word stem accents with upcoming suffixes allows native listeners to pre-activate a word's potential ending and thereby facilitate speech processing. Unlike native speakers, second language learners are known to be less able to use prediction in their L2s. This is presumably due in particular to competing information from the learners' L1 and a poorer exposure to the relevant L2 information. Swedish word accents, however, are abundant in the input and rare cross-linguistically, making them ideal for studying the implicit acquisition of linguistic prediction in beginner L2 learners. We... (More)

The morphosyntactic nature of word accents in Swedish makes them a perfect candidate for the study of predictive processing in language. The association of word stem accents with upcoming suffixes allows native listeners to pre-activate a word's potential ending and thereby facilitate speech processing. Unlike native speakers, second language learners are known to be less able to use prediction in their L2s. This is presumably due in particular to competing information from the learners' L1 and a poorer exposure to the relevant L2 information. Swedish word accents, however, are abundant in the input and rare cross-linguistically, making them ideal for studying the implicit acquisition of linguistic prediction in beginner L2 learners. We therefore recorded learners' electrophysiological brain responses to Swedish word accents and compared them to those of native speakers. In the native speaker group, a pronounced suffix-related PrAN (pre-activation negativity), N400 and a P600-like late positivity indicate predictive processing. The learners, however, only produced a late (400–600 ms) centrally distributed negativity for word accent processing, remarkably similar to the deflection for pure pitch height differences found in the same subject group. Crucially, correlation analysis indicated that this negativity increased (at right-lateral electrode sites) for learners with increased level of Swedish proficiency. We conclude that, to allow L2 tone-suffix association and to enable its predictive capacity, the acquisition of Swedish word accents and their predictive properties might first involve dissociation of word tones from the default L1 tonal patterns as well as sensitisation to pitch height differences.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
ERP, Morphosyntax, Pre-activation negativity, Prediction, Second language acquisition, Word accents
in
Journal of Neurolinguistics
volume
45
pages
19 pages
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:85030707846
ISSN
0911-6044
DOI
10.1016/j.jneuroling.2017.09.001
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
7b6bbb2c-bdd0-4cbe-8dc0-c11ea818e3d6
date added to LUP
2017-10-16 07:20:45
date last changed
2018-01-07 12:22:26
@article{7b6bbb2c-bdd0-4cbe-8dc0-c11ea818e3d6,
  abstract     = {<p>The morphosyntactic nature of word accents in Swedish makes them a perfect candidate for the study of predictive processing in language. The association of word stem accents with upcoming suffixes allows native listeners to pre-activate a word's potential ending and thereby facilitate speech processing. Unlike native speakers, second language learners are known to be less able to use prediction in their L2s. This is presumably due in particular to competing information from the learners' L1 and a poorer exposure to the relevant L2 information. Swedish word accents, however, are abundant in the input and rare cross-linguistically, making them ideal for studying the implicit acquisition of linguistic prediction in beginner L2 learners. We therefore recorded learners' electrophysiological brain responses to Swedish word accents and compared them to those of native speakers. In the native speaker group, a pronounced suffix-related PrAN (pre-activation negativity), N400 and a P600-like late positivity indicate predictive processing. The learners, however, only produced a late (400–600 ms) centrally distributed negativity for word accent processing, remarkably similar to the deflection for pure pitch height differences found in the same subject group. Crucially, correlation analysis indicated that this negativity increased (at right-lateral electrode sites) for learners with increased level of Swedish proficiency. We conclude that, to allow L2 tone-suffix association and to enable its predictive capacity, the acquisition of Swedish word accents and their predictive properties might first involve dissociation of word tones from the default L1 tonal patterns as well as sensitisation to pitch height differences.</p>},
  author       = {Gosselke Berthelsen, Sabine and Horne, Merle and Brännström, Jonas and Shtyrov, Yury and Roll, Mikael},
  issn         = {0911-6044},
  keyword      = {ERP,Morphosyntax,Pre-activation negativity,Prediction,Second language acquisition,Word accents},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {02},
  pages        = {60--78},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Journal of Neurolinguistics},
  title        = {Neural processing of morphosyntactic tonal cues in second-language learners},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroling.2017.09.001},
  volume       = {45},
  year         = {2018},
}