First language (L1) attrition in adulthood offers new insight on neuroplasticity and the role of language experience in shaping neurocognitive responses to language. Attriters are multilinguals for whom advancing L2 proficiency comes at the cost of the L1, as they experience a shift in exposure and dominance (e.g., due to immigration). To date, the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying L1 attrition are largely unexplored. Using event-related potentials (ERPs), we examined L1-Italian grammatical processing in 24 attriters and 30 Italian native-controls. We assessed whether (a) attriters differed from non-attriting native speakers in their online detection and re-analysis/repair of number agreement violations, and whether (b) differences in processing were modulated by L1-proficiency. To test both local and non-local agreement violations, we manipulated agreement between three inflected constituents and examined ERP responses on two of these (subject, verb, modifier). Our findings revealed group differences in amplitude, scalp distribution, and duration of LAN/N400 + P600 effects. We discuss these differences as reflecting influence of attriters’ L2-English, as well as shallower online sentence repair processes than in non-attriting native speakers. ERP responses were also predicted by L1-Italian proficiency scores, with smaller N400/P600 amplitudes in lower proficiency individuals. Proficiency only modulated P600 amplitude between 650 and 900 ms, whereas the late P600 (beyond 900 ms) depended on group membership and amount of L1 exposure within attriters. Our study is the first to show qualitative and quantitative differences in ERP responses in attriters compared to non-attriting native speakers. Our results also emphasize that proficiency predicts language processing profiles, even in native-speakers, and that the P600 should not be considered a monolithic component.

First language attrition induces changes in online morphosyntactic processing and re-analysis: an ERP study of number agreement in complex Italian sentences

Vespignani, Francesco;
2017

Abstract

First language (L1) attrition in adulthood offers new insight on neuroplasticity and the role of language experience in shaping neurocognitive responses to language. Attriters are multilinguals for whom advancing L2 proficiency comes at the cost of the L1, as they experience a shift in exposure and dominance (e.g., due to immigration). To date, the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying L1 attrition are largely unexplored. Using event-related potentials (ERPs), we examined L1-Italian grammatical processing in 24 attriters and 30 Italian native-controls. We assessed whether (a) attriters differed from non-attriting native speakers in their online detection and re-analysis/repair of number agreement violations, and whether (b) differences in processing were modulated by L1-proficiency. To test both local and non-local agreement violations, we manipulated agreement between three inflected constituents and examined ERP responses on two of these (subject, verb, modifier). Our findings revealed group differences in amplitude, scalp distribution, and duration of LAN/N400 + P600 effects. We discuss these differences as reflecting influence of attriters’ L2-English, as well as shallower online sentence repair processes than in non-attriting native speakers. ERP responses were also predicted by L1-Italian proficiency scores, with smaller N400/P600 amplitudes in lower proficiency individuals. Proficiency only modulated P600 amplitude between 650 and 900 ms, whereas the late P600 (beyond 900 ms) depended on group membership and amount of L1 exposure within attriters. Our study is the first to show qualitative and quantitative differences in ERP responses in attriters compared to non-attriting native speakers. Our results also emphasize that proficiency predicts language processing profiles, even in native-speakers, and that the P600 should not be considered a monolithic component.
2017
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3309582
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