The bilingual brain turns a blind eye to negative statements in the second language

Jonczyk, R. and Boutonnet, B. and Musial, K. and Hoemann, K. and Thierry, G. (2016) The bilingual brain turns a blind eye to negative statements in the second language. Cognitive Affective and Behavioural Neuroscience. (In Press)

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Neurobilingualism research has failed to reveal significant language differences in the processing of affective content. However, the evidence to date derives mostly from studies in which affective stimuli are presented out of context, which is unnatural and fails to capture the complexity of everyday sentence-based communication. Here we investigated semantic integration of affectively salient stimuli in sentential context in the first- and second-language (L2) of late fluent Polish-English bilinguals living in the UK. The 19 participants indicated whether Polish and English sentences ending with a semantically and affectively congruent or incongruent adjective of controlled affective valence made sense while undergoing behavioral and electrophysiological recordings. We focused on the N400, a wave of event-related potentials known to index semantic integration. We expected N400 amplitude to index increased processing demands in L2 English comprehension and potential language-valence interactions to reveal differences in affective processing between languages. Contrary to our initial expectation, we found increased N400 for sentences in L1 Polish, possibly driven by greater affective salience of sentences in the native language. Critically, language interacted with affective valence, such that N400 amplitudes were reduced for English sentences ending in a negative fashion as compared to all other conditions. We interpreted this as a sign that bilinguals suppress L2 content embedded in naturalistic L2 sentences when it has negative valence, thus extending the findings of previous research on single words in clinical and linguistic research.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Research Publications
Departments: College of Health and Behavioural Sciences > School of Psychology
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2016 03:13
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2016 03:13
ISSN: 1530-7026
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/6324
Publisher: Springer
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