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Cortical organization for receptive language functions in Chinese, English, and Spanish: a cross-linguistic MEG study. Chinese differs from Indo-European languages in both its written and spoken forms. Being a tonal language, tones convey lexically meaningful information. The current study examines patterns of neurophysiological activity in temporal and temporoparietal brain areas as speakers of two Indo-European languages (Spanish and English) and speakers of Mandarin-Chinese were engaged in a spoken-word recognition task that is used clinically for the presurgical determination of hemispheric dominace for receptive language functions. Brain magnetic activation profiles were obtained from 92 healthy adult volunteers: 30 monolingual native speakers of Mandarin-Chinese, 20 Spanish-speaking, and 42 native speakers of American English. Activation scans were acquired in two different whole-head MEG systems using identical testing methods. Results indicate that (a) the degree of hemispheric asymmetry in the duration of neurophysiological activity in temporal and temporoparietal regions was reduced in the Chinese group, (b) the proportion of individuals who showed bilaterally symmetric activation was significantly higher in this group, and (c) group differences in functional hemispheric asymmetry were first noted after the initial sensory processing of the word stimuli. Furthermore, group differences in the degree of hemispheric asymmetry were primarily due to greater degree of activation in the right temporoparietal region in the Chinese group, suggesting increased participation of this region in the spoken word recognition in Mandarin-Chinese. N
The on-line resolution of the sentence complement/relative clause ambiguity: evidence from Spanish. Two self-paced reading experiments investigated syntactic ambiguity resolution in Spanish. The experiments examined the way in which Spanish subjects initially interpret sentences that are temporarily ambiguous between a sentence complement and a relative clause interpretation. Experiment 1 examined whether the sentence complement preference found in English is observed in Spanish speaking subjects. In Experiment 2, verbal mood was manipulated in order to study the influence of verb-specific information on sentence processing. Since subcategorization for a subjunctive complement clause is generally assumed to be a lexical property of some verbs, the manipulation of the mood of the embedded verb affords us an interesting and novel way to examine the influence of lexical information on syntactic ambiguity resolution. Experiment 1 showed that Spanish speakers initially interpret the ambiguous that-clause as a sentence complement. Experiment 2 showed that verb-specific information, in particular, the information that specificies that a verb subcategorizes for a subjunctive complement, is accessed and used rapidly and affects the ambiguity resolution process. The results are discussed in relation to current models of sentence processing. ep
What is a TOT? Cognate and translation effects on tip-of-the-tongue states in Spanish-English and tagalog-English bilinguals. The authors induced tip-of-the-tongue states (TOTs) for English words in monolinguals and bilinguals using picture stimuli with cognate (e.g., vampire, which is vampiro in Spanish) and noncognate (e.g., funnel, which is embudo in Spanish) names. Bilinguals had more TOTs than did monolinguals unless the target pictures had translatable cognate names, and bilinguals had fewer TOTs for noncognates they were later able to translate. TOT rates for the same targets in monolinguals indicated that these effects could not be attributed to target difficulty. Two popular TOT accounts must be modified to explain cognate and translatability facilitation effects, and cross-language interference cannot explain bilinguals' increased TOTs rates. Instead the authors propose that, relative to monolinguals, bilinguals are less able to activate representations specific to each language.