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Brain responses to contrastive and noncontrastive morphosyntactic structures in African American English and Mainstream American English: ERP evidence for the neural indices of dialect

Garcia, Felicidad Marcia

Recent research has shown that distinct event-related potential (ERP) signatures are associated with switching between languages compared to switching between dialects or registers (e.g., Khamis-Dakwar & Froud, 2007; Moreno, Federmeier & Kutas, 2002). The current investigation builds on these findings to examine whether contrastive and non-contrastive morphosyntactic features in English elicit differing neural responses in bidialectal speakers of African American English (AAE) and Mainstream American English (MAE), compared to monodialectal speakers of MAE. Event-related potentials (ERPs) and behavioral responses (response types and reaction time) to grammaticality judgments targeting a contrasting morphosyntactic feature between MAE and AAE are presented as evidence of dual-language representation in bidialectal speakers. Results from 30 participants (15 monodialectal; 15 bidialectal) support the notion that bidialectal populations demonstrate distinct neurophysiological profiles from monolingual groups as indicated by a significantly greater P600 amplitude from 500ms – 800ms time window in the monodialectal group, when listening to sentences containing contrasting features. Such evidence can support the development of linguistically informed educational curriculums and clinical approaches from speech-language pathologists, by elucidating the differing underlying processes of language between monodialectal and bidialectal speakers of American English.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Speech and Language Pathology
Thesis Advisors
Froud, Karen
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 22, 2017
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