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An fMRI study on the processing of long-distance wh-movement in a second language

Pliatsikas, C., Johnstone, T. and Marinis, T. (2017) An fMRI study on the processing of long-distance wh-movement in a second language. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 2 (1). 101. ISSN 2397-1835

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5334/gjgl.95

Abstract/Summary

Recent behavioural evidence from second language (L2) learners has suggested native-like processing of syntactic structures, such as long-distance wh-dependencies in L2. The underlying processes are still largely debated, while the available neuroimaging evidence has been restricted to native (L1) processing. Here we test highly proficient L2-learners of English in an fMRI experiment incorporating a sentence reading task with long-distance wh-dependencies, including abstract syntactic categories (empty traces of wh-movement). Our results suggest that long-distance wh-dependencies impose increased working memory (WM) demands, compared to control sentences of equal length, demonstrated as increased activation of the superior and middle temporal gyri bilaterally. Additionally, our results suggest abstract syntactic processing by the most immersed L2 learners, manifested as comparable left temporal activity for sentences with wh-traces and sentences with no wh-movement. These findings are discussed against current theoretical proposals about L2 syntactic processing.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:72461
Publisher:Ubiquity Press

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