Special Issue "Cognitive Neuroscience Perspectives on Language Acquisition and Processing"

A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425). This special issue belongs to the section "Neurolinguistics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Jason Rothman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Language and Culture, UiT The Arctic University of Norway & Nebrija University, Tromsø, Norway
Interests: language acquisition; language processing; neurocognition and bilingualism; behavioral methods; EEG; MRI
Prof. Dr. Vincent DeLuca
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Language and Culture, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
Interests: neurocognition and bilingualism; EEG and MRI
Dr. Alicia Luque
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Language and Culture, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
Interests: language acquisition; language processing; neurocognition and multilingualism; behavioral methods and EEG
Dr. Yanina Prystauka
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Language and Culture, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
Interests: language processing; EEG & MRI
Dr. Toms Voits
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Language and Culture, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
Interests: neurocognition and bilingualism; cognitive aging and bilingualism; MRI

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For a long time now, work in (psycho)linguistics, psychology, cognitive neuroscience and related fields has studied how humans learn/acquire, mentally represent and process one, two or more language(s). Over the past few decades in particular, relevant empirical evidence from brain imaging methods, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and magnetoencephalography (MEG) has provided key insights to unpack how language is acquired and processed at the neural level. As a result, we now have deeper theories and better insights regarding the potential (neuro)cognitive mechanisms involved and an improved understanding of the neurocognitive consequences of language in the mind/brain. This SI is dedicated to furthering our understanding of the nature of language representation in the brain with a specific focus on acquisition and processing. We welcome submissions exploring the multitude of neural processes underlying the dynamic nature of linguistic representations across development in the acquisition and during real-time processing as language unfolds. Potential themes/topics include but are not limited to the following: (i) linguistic representations and processing in the brain, including how (and why) they may change over time; (ii) brain change, e.g., naturally over the life span as in cognitive aging, by virtue of shifts in relevant experience with language (i.e., attrition at any age) and/or due to genetic or acquired impairments affecting language acquisition/processing at any age; (iii) how neurological predispositions might delimit the nature and trajectory of language acquisition/processing; and (iv) brain evidence that speaks to fundamentally different or similar qualitative processes in language acquisition/processing as a function of age and or (mono-, bi-, multi-)-lingualism. While such questions can be addressed with offline and online behavioral measures such as eye-tracking, we especially welcome papers using methods typically present in the work appearing in Brain Sciences, especially (f)MRI, EEG (ERP and neural oscillations), MEG, etc., however papers with other methods (eye-tracking or other behavioral methods) will be considered provided they have a clear cognitive/brain component. The goal is for this SI to serve as a platform from which a better understanding can be gleaned from the unique contributions of neural methods to questions on language acquisition and processing. 

Prof. Dr. Jason Rothman
Prof. Dr. Vincent DeLuca
Dr. Alicia Luque
Dr. Yanina Prystauka
Dr. Toms Voits
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Brain Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Language Acquisition
  • Language Processing
  • Neurocognition

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Article
Syntactic and Semantic Influences on the Time Course of Relative Clause Processing: The Role of Language Dominance
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(8), 989; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11080989 - 27 Jul 2021
Viewed by 620
Abstract
We conducted a visual world eye-tracking experiment with highly proficient Spanish-English bilingual adults to investigate the effects of relative language dominance, operationalized as a continuous, multidimensional variable, on the time course of relative clause processing in the first-learned language, Spanish. We found that [...] Read more.
We conducted a visual world eye-tracking experiment with highly proficient Spanish-English bilingual adults to investigate the effects of relative language dominance, operationalized as a continuous, multidimensional variable, on the time course of relative clause processing in the first-learned language, Spanish. We found that participants exhibited two distinct processing preferences: a semantically driven preference to assign agency to referents of lexically animate noun phrases and a syntactically driven preference to interpret relative clauses as subject-extracted. Spanish dominance was found to exert a distinct influence on each of these preferences, gradiently attenuating the semantic preference while gradiently exaggerating the syntactic preference. While these results might be attributable to particular properties of Spanish and English, they also suggest a possible generalization that greater dominance in a language increases reliance on language-specific syntactic processing strategies while correspondingly decreasing reliance on more domain-general semantic processing strategies. Full article
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Article
Contextual Acquisition of Concrete and Abstract Words: Behavioural and Electrophysiological Evidence
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(7), 898; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11070898 - 07 Jul 2021
Viewed by 574
Abstract
Abstract and concrete words differ in their cognitive and neuronal underpinnings, but the exact mechanisms underlying these distinctions are unclear. We investigated differences between these two semantic types by analysing brain responses to newly learnt words with fully controlled psycholinguistic properties. Experimental participants [...] Read more.
Abstract and concrete words differ in their cognitive and neuronal underpinnings, but the exact mechanisms underlying these distinctions are unclear. We investigated differences between these two semantic types by analysing brain responses to newly learnt words with fully controlled psycholinguistic properties. Experimental participants learned 20 novel abstract and concrete words in the context of short stories. After the learning session, event-related potentials (ERPs) to newly learned items were recorded, and acquisition outcomes were assessed behaviourally in a range of lexical and semantic tasks. Behavioural results showed better performance on newly learnt abstract words in lexical tasks, whereas semantic assessments showed a tendency for higher accuracy for concrete words. ERPs to novel abstract and concrete concepts differed early on, ~150 ms after the word onset. Moreover, differences between novel words and control untrained pseudowords were observed earlier for concrete (~150 ms) than for abstract (~200 ms) words. Distributed source analysis indicated bilateral temporo-parietal activation underpinning newly established memory traces, suggesting a crucial role of Wernicke’s area and its right-hemispheric homologue in word acquisition. In sum, we report behavioural and neurophysiological processing differences between concrete and abstract words evident immediately after their controlled acquisition, confirming distinct neurocognitive mechanisms underpinning these types of semantics. Full article
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Brief Report
¡Hola! Nice to Meet You: Language Mixing and Biographical Information Processing
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(6), 703; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060703 - 26 May 2021
Viewed by 828
Abstract
In bilingual communities, social interactions take place in both single- and mixed-language contexts. Some of the information shared in multilingual conversations, such as interlocutors’ personal information, is often required in consequent social encounters. In this study, we explored whether the autobiographical information provided [...] Read more.
In bilingual communities, social interactions take place in both single- and mixed-language contexts. Some of the information shared in multilingual conversations, such as interlocutors’ personal information, is often required in consequent social encounters. In this study, we explored whether the autobiographical information provided in a single-language context is better remembered than in an equivalent mixed-language situation. More than 400 Basque-Spanish bilingual (pre) teenagers were presented with new persons who introduced themselves by either using only Spanish or only Basque, or by inter-sententially mixing both languages. Different memory measures were collected immediately after the initial exposure to the new pieces of information (immediate recall and recognition) and on the day after (delayed recall and recognition). In none of the time points was the information provided in a mixed-language fashion worse remembered than that provided in a strict one-language context. Interestingly, the variability across participants in their sociodemographic and linguistic variables had a negligible impact on the effects. These results are discussed considering their social and educational implications for bilingual communities. Full article
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