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1.  Neural Responses to Partner Rejection Cues 
Psychological science  2009;20(7):813-821.
Little is known about neural responses in the early automatic-stage processing of rejection cues from a partner. Event-related potentials (ERPs) offer a window to study processes that may be difficult to detect via behavioral methods. We focused on the N400 ERP component, which reflects the amount of semantic processing prompted by a target. When participants were primed by attachment-related contexts (“If I need help from my partner, my partner will be …”), rejection-related words (e.g., dismissing) elicited greater N400 amplitudes than acceptance-related words (e.g., supporting). Analyses of results for nonattachment primes suggest that these findings were not simply caused by target valence; the brain responds differentially to cues of partner rejection versus acceptance in under 300 ms. Moreover, these early-stage neurophysiological responses were heightened or dampened as a function of individuals’ adult attachment; women characterized by high anxiety and low avoidance showed the greatest N400 responses to cues of partner rejection (vs. acceptance).
PMCID: PMC2731680  PMID: 19493321
2.  ERPs reveal comparable syntactic sentence processing in native and non-native readers of English 
Acta psychologica  2007;128(3):514-527.
L2 syntactic processing has been primarily investigated in the context of syntactic anomaly detection, but only sparsely with syntactic ambiguity. In the field of event-related potentials (ERPs) syntactic anomaly detection and syntactic ambiguity resolution is linked to the P600. The current ERP experiment examined L2 syntactic processing in highly proficient L1 Spanish-L2 English readers who had acquired English informally around the age of 5 years. Temporary syntactic ambiguity (induced by verb subcategorization information) was tested as a language-specific phenomenon of L2, while syntactic anomaly resulted from phrase structure constraints that are similar in L1 and L2. Participants judged whether a sentence was syntactically acceptable or not. Native readers of English showed a P600 in the temporary syntactically ambiguous and syntactically anomalous sentences. A comparable picture emerged in the non-native readers of English. Both critical syntactic conditions elicited a P600, however, the distribution and latency of the P600 varied in the syntactic anomaly condition. The results clearly show that early acquisition of L2 syntactic knowledge leads to comparable online sensitivity towards temporal syntactic ambiguity and syntactic anomaly in early and highly proficient non-native readers of English and native readers of English.
PMCID: PMC2711869  PMID: 18061129
ERPs; P600; L2 syntactic processing; Syntactic ambiguity; Syntactic anomaly
3.  Second-language learning and changes in the brain 
Journal of neurolinguistics  2008;21(6):509-521.
Presumably, second-language (L2) learning is mediated by changes in the brain. Little is known about what changes in the brain, how the brain changes, or when these changes occur during learning. Here, we illustrate by way of example how modern brain-based methods can be used to discern some of the changes that occur during L2 learning. Preliminary results from three studies indicate that classroom-based L2 instruction can result in changes in the brain’s electrical activity, in the location of this activity within the brain, and in the structure of the learners’ brains. These changes can occur during the earliest stages of L2 acquisition.
PMCID: PMC2600795  PMID: 19079740
Second language; plasticity; ERPs; N400; P600; VBM; language processing

Results 1-3 (3)