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Working Memory and Nativelikeness in the Processing of Focus Structure Robert Reichle 1 Annie Tremblay 2 Caitlin Coughlin 2 1 Department of Foreign Languages.

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Presentation on theme: "Working Memory and Nativelikeness in the Processing of Focus Structure Robert Reichle 1 Annie Tremblay 2 Caitlin Coughlin 2 1 Department of Foreign Languages."— Presentation transcript:

1 Working Memory and Nativelikeness in the Processing of Focus Structure Robert Reichle 1 Annie Tremblay 2 Caitlin Coughlin 2 1 Department of Foreign Languages Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language and Literacy Northern Illinois University 2 Department of Linguistics University of Kansas

2 2 Second Language Processing For late L2 learners, L2 processing is difficult Corresponding features/structures in the native language do not ensure success in the L2 Variability is typical Native-like attainment is not typical Why? (e.g., Babcock et al., 2008; Chen et al., 2007; Clahsen et al., 2010; Coughlin & Tremblay, to appear; Hopp, 2006, 2010; Jiang, 2004, 2007; Keating, 2009; Lew-Williams & Fernald, 2007; Neubauer & White, 2009; Sagarra & Herschensohn, 2010; Sato & Felser, 2008; Silva & Clahsen, 2008)

3 3 Proposed Explanations Cognitive Processing Hypothesis (CPH) (McDonald, 2006; see also Hopp, 2010) o Relative to native speakers, L2 learners have Lower L2 working memory (WM) capacity Poorer L2 decoding abilities Slower L2 processing speed What about general L2 proficiency and general WM capacity? All correlated with L2 proficiency

4 4 Proposed Explanations Cognitive accounts: Quantitative (computational) difference Shallow Structure Hypothesis: Qualitative (representational) difference Declarative/Procedural Model: Qualitative-to-quantitative difference

5 5 Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) Can shed light on the qualitative vs. quantitative difference o (e.g., graphs from Osterhout et al., 2006, p. 204; Friederici, Steinhauer, & Frisch, 1999; Friederici, 2002; Hahne & Friederici, 1999, 2001; Hagoort & Brown, 1999; Kaan et al., 2000; Kutas & Hillyard, 1980; Osterhout, Bersick, & McLaughlin, 1997; Osterhout & Holcomb, 1992; Osterhout & Mobley, 1995; Steinhauer, Halter, & Friederici, 1999) 5 Lexical/semantic processingMorphosyntactic/grammatical processing

6 6 Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) Left anterior negativity (LAN) o phrase structure and morphosyntax violations are often associated with a left anterior negativity effect o index increased working memory load stemming from the storage of syntactic dependencies in working memory (e.g. Cowles, 2003; Kluender & Kutas, 1993; Münte, Schiltz, & Kutas, 1998) (e.g., figures from Neville et al., 1991; Friederici, Pfeifer, & Hahne, 1993; Kluender & Kutas, 1993; Münte, Heinze, Matzke, Wieringa, & Johannes, 1998; Osterhout & Holcomb, 1992)

7 7 Proficiency effects on sensitivity to agreement violations (inflectional morphology) o Artificial language learning: with language training, N400  P600 o (e.g., Morgan-Short et al., 2010) o Real language learning: with increasing proficiency, N400  P600 o (e.g., Bowden et al., 2007; Hahne et al., 2006; Osterhout et al., 2006; Rossi et al., 2006; Steinhauer et al., 2006; Gillon Dowens, Vergara, Barber, & Carreiras, 2010; McLaughlin, Osterhout, & Kim, 2004; McLaughlin, Tanner, Pitkänen, Frenck-Mestre, Inoue, Valentine, & Osterhout, 2010; Tanner, Osterhout, & Herschensohn, 2009; Ojima, Nakata, & Kakigi, 2005) Event-Related Potentials (ERPs)

8 8 Focus Marking Focus indicates something new or relevant about the topic Focus is marked in different ways across languages (Lambrecht 1994, 2001) English: syntactically word accent French: syntactically word accent

9 9 Focus Marking

10 10 LANs and focus structure o LANs for contrastive focus compared to informational focus o Interpreted as an index of increased WM load as the set of referents is kept active in WM (Cowles, 2003) o Instead of fully left lateralized, broadly distributed o This (L)(A)N is found in L1 French; L2 proficiency found to modulate effect in L2 French (Reichle, 2010; Reichle & Birdsong, under revision) Since focal status must be kept active in WM, we predicted a similar LAN for licensed informational focus compared to no focus Focus Marking

11 11 Syntax-discourse interface o Sorace has proposed that phenomena at the syntax-discourse interface can pose problems for near-native L2 learners (e.g. Sorace, 2000; Sorace, 2003; Sorace & Serratrice, 2009) Thus, this type of focus marking in L2 French may be difficult for learners Focus Marking

12 12 Present Study Proficiency may not be the only factor in determining whether L2 learners show sensitivity to focus structure Aims of this study o Determine whether Cognitive Processing Hypothesis can account for L2 learners’ ERP signatures o Can WM capacity explain individual variability?

13 13 Present Study Hypotheses: 1.In discourse contexts where focus is licensed, an LAN would index the increased WM load required to track the focal referent across discourse, compared to sentences with no preceding focus marking. 2.These LANs would be modulated by WM capacity and L2 proficiency.

14 14Participants 10 English L2 learners of French (mean age: 22) 7 L1 French controls (mean age: 26) English cloze test: Brown (1980) French cloze test: Tremblay (2011); Tremblay & Garrison (2010)

15 15Materials 4 conditions (36 sentences/condition) o 25% of sentences followed by a true-or-false comprehension question

16 16 WM Tasks Adapted from Waters & Caplan (1996) Similar sentences, but different lexical items and different words to recall Control for frequency and length of the lexical items to be recalled (for details, see Coughlin & Tremblay, 2012) Dependent variables: word recall in French and English o Correlate between the two languages o Do not correlate with proficiency

17 17Procedures Session 1 ERP session in the L2 WM task in the L2 Cloze test in the L2 Language background questionnaire Session 1 ERP session in the L2 WM task in the L2 Cloze test in the L2 Language background questionnaire Session 2 ERP session in the L1 WM task in the L1 Session 2 ERP session in the L1 WM task in the L1

18 18 Data Analysis Time window for negativity: ms. ANOVAs: 2 (Condition) x 3 (Laterality) x 3 (Anteriority) Linear regressions between individual variables and effect of negativity/positivity

19 19Results L1 English Licensed: Who is it exactly who makes the soup? Extraneous: Who makes the soup? Target sentence: It is the chef who makes the soup.

20 20Results L1 English Licensed: Who is it exactly who makes the soup? Extraneous: Who makes the soup? Target sentence: It is the chef who makes the soup. Condition * Hemisphere: p <.01 Condition * Anteriority: p =.07

21 21Results L1 English Licensed: Who is it exactly who makes the soup? Extraneous: Who makes the soup? Target sentence: It is the chef who makes the soup. Condition * Hemisphere * EngWordSpan: p =.06

22 22Results L2 French Licensed: Qui c’est qui fait la soupe? Extraneous: Qui fait la soupe? Target sentence: C’est le cuisinier qui fait la soupe.

23 23Results L2 French Licensed: Qui c’est qui fait la soupe? Extraneous: Qui fait la soupe? Target sentence: C’est le cuisinier qui fait la soupe. Condition: p =.1

24 24Results L2 French Licensed: Qui c’est qui fait la soupe? Extraneous: Qui fait la soupe? Target sentence: C’est le cuisinier qui fait la soupe. F3, Fz: Condition*Language*Site, p =.088

25 25Discussion English L2 learners of French o Quantitively different in the L1 as a function of WM capacity o Qualitatively the same ERP effect (LAN) in L1 and L2, but with different distribution o In L2, trended towards a significant negativity effect but did not display a significant effect at the group level o This marginal negativity was widespread rather than anterior or lateralized, as it was in the L1

26 26Discussion English L2 learners of French o Consistent with findings that L2 LANs are not fully localized (laterality/anteriority) until higher levels of proficiency (e.g. Steinhauer et al., 2009) o Consistent with notion that processing factors such as WM capacity quantitatively modulate brain signatures in the L1, but no direct evidence for the L2 processing account put forth by McDonald (2006) o Reinforce the notion that phenomena at the syntax-pragmatics interface are likely to pose processing difficulties in the L2

27 27Discussion English L2 learners of French o In L1 English, WM capacity positively correlated with LAN effect size. Suggests that higher-WM participants better able to keep the focal status of referent in WM across sentences. o Lack of similar correlation in L2 French suggests all learners encountered processing difficulty o Marginal Language*Condition interaction at anterior sites suggests quantitative difference in effect size between L1 and L2

28 28 Further Research Higher-proficiency English L2 learners of French Native speakers of English in a French-speaking environment To test other aspects of Cognitive Processing Hypothesis, look at other individual variables that might correlate with quantitative ERP differences Test other areas of morphosyntactic processing, such as SV agreement (Reichle, Tremblay, & Coughlin, to appear; Reichle, Tremblay, Frenck-Mestre, & Coughlin, in progress)

29 29 Merci!

30 30Acknowledgments All the research participants at NIU NIU Center for the Study of Family Violence and Sexual Assault NIU Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language and Literacy University of Illinois Humanities/Arts Scholarship Support


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