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McGill University
PSYC 341
Richard Koestner

Lecture 8 – How critical is the critical period in second language acquisition? Evidence from event related brain potentials (ERPs) Who developed the critical period hypothesis? Penfield et al How is the critical period hypothesis similar to Both due to loss of brain plasticity in the fundamental difference hypothesis childhood/puberty, L1 and late L2 are learned and processed differently 2 types of controversial claims - Limited L2 attainment (fossilization) - Neurobiological dimension of Critical period hypothesis: different neurocognitive processes underlying L1 and L2 AOA-dependent differences btwn L1 and (late) L2 L1 (early acquired first language) - Fast - Automatic, language-specific (modules, UG, LAD) - Implicit (!), procedural[ized] Late L2 (post CP second language) - Slow - Less automatic, domain-general cognition - Explicit, declarative AOA is a critical factor that ends around when Puberty; 12-16 y.o and what age AOA is critical to development in _____ and Phonology and morpho-syntax and less so in less so in ______ conceptual semantics Describe Johnson & Newport (1989)’s study - Age of arrival (~age 2 exposure) with Chinese/Korean learners of English predicts final L2 attainment only up to 17 years of age. Later exposure is not correlated with final L2 attainment (“end state”) - Late learners never reached native-like performance levels The ____ you acquire, the _____ the Later; lower competence How did Birdson and Molis (2001) counter - AOA > 17 yrs does predict final L2 Johnson and Newport’s experiment with his attainment replication with Spanish learners of English? - Native-like L2 attainment is not rare - Rlnsp L1/L2 (transfer effects) may be crucial What did White and Genesee (1996) find Found native like competence and about competence and performance in late performance even for structures that did not Francophone English learners allow for transfer (Subjancency) Alternative accounts for L2 age effects? - Neurocognitive ‘entrenchment’ in L1 - Socialization in L1 (+L1 culture) - Motivation to acquire an L2 (what is ‘good enough’) - Hours and types of L2 expo Three possibilities for the rlnsp btwn brain mechanisms for early L1 and late L2 L2 does not equal L1 (e.g. ‘fundamental difference hypothesis”) completely compatible with critical period hypothesis L2 = L1 (same mechanisms; but difficult to explain differences in attainment  entrenchment, motivation, other factors) Initially L2 does not equal L1, then L2  L1 ….until L2 = L1 (exception) (with increasing L2 proficiency, the L2 processing changes and converges on L1 mechanisms) Neuroscientific approaches fMRI - WHERE in the brain - Brain surgery/brain scan - Good spatial/bad temporal EEG(electro-encephalography) - WHEN in the brain - Disorders (Even coma patients) - Bad spatial/ good temporal Speech/language is ____ and ___; what Fast; dynamic differs in L2 learners? Processing dynamics in L2 learners may be different Which neuroscientific approach is best for EEG speech/language? Benefits of EEG/ERP - Measure brain’s neural activity time- locked to stimulus onset - Continuous online measure (real-time without delays) - Excellence time resolution but poor spatial - No task required, recordable at any age What are ERPs - Measure of the brain’s electrical activity time-locked to stimulus onset What does an ERP graph look like? Draw? Refer to slide on pg 3 of lecture 8 with the black image of the ERP graph - Negative is above and positive is below Violations in conceptual semantics on ERP N400 and up activate He spread the warm bread with butter vs he Example? spread the warm bread with socks Violations in (morpho-)syntax on ERP activate Left-anterior negativity (LAN) Example? P600 The ice cream was eaten. The ice cream was in the eaten. EEG electrodes (sensors) vs EEG amplifier Electrodes: senses the error Amplifier: draws it out on the graph When is N400 activated? (N400 effect) When there is a conceptual semantics error like John ate democracy instead of broccoli at dinner Voltage map of N400 effect occurs btwn what 300-500ms time Lexical/semantic processing difficulties N400 activate ERPs in L1 and L2 in N400 activation? L2s have delayed N400 activation L1 profile for grammar error in ERP? Suggests that CPH should be found only in native speakers, not in late L2 learners Assumed early left negativity Early left negativity Assumed to reflect highly automatic grammar processing ERPS in L1 and L2 in P600 activation? L1: E LAN +P600 L2: no effect or small P600 How might critical period affect L2? Crit period prevents you from using automatic brain mechs which therefore affect L2 What was claimed in 2001 about late L2? No automatic LAN components in SLA (potentially no access to Broca’s area (LAD? UG?) When AOA and proficiency were teased apart, Artificial language learning what was found What language was used in artificial language BROCANTO – miniature lang and ERPs? What does it refer to? Moves of a computer game Describe the study with Artificial Langua
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