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Bilinguals benefit from semantic context while perceiving speech in noise in both of their languages: Electrophysiological evidence from the N400 ERP

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2020

Kristina Coulter
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Concordia University Centre for Research in Human Development Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music
Annie C. Gilbert
Affiliation:
Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University
Shanna Kousaie
Affiliation:
Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University
Shari Baum
Affiliation:
Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University
Vincent L. Gracco
Affiliation:
School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University Haskins Laboratories
Denise Klein
Affiliation:
Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University
Debra Titone
Affiliation:
Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music Department of Psychology, McGill University
Natalie A. Phillips
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Concordia University Centre for Research in Human Development Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music Bloomfield Centre for Studies on Aging
Corresponding

Abstract

Although bilinguals benefit from semantic context while perceiving speech-in-noise in their native language (L1), the extent to which bilinguals benefit from semantic context in their second language (L2) is unclear. Here, 57 highly proficient English–French/French–English bilinguals, who varied in L2 age of acquisition, performed a speech-perception-in-noise task in both languages while event-related brain potentials were recorded. Participants listened to and repeated the final word of sentences high or low in semantic constraint, in quiet and with a multi-talker babble mask. Overall, our findings indicate that bilinguals do benefit from semantic context while perceiving speech-in-noise in both their languages. Simultaneous bilinguals showed evidence of processing semantic context similarly to monolinguals. Early sequential bilinguals recruited additional neural resources, suggesting more effective use of semantic context in L2, compared to late bilinguals. Semantic context use was not associated with bilingual language experience or working memory.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press.

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Bilinguals benefit from semantic context while perceiving speech in noise in both of their languages: Electrophysiological evidence from the N400 ERP
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Bilinguals benefit from semantic context while perceiving speech in noise in both of their languages: Electrophysiological evidence from the N400 ERP
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