Rapid neural processing of grammatical tone in second language learners
Sabine Gosselke Berthelsen, Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University
This PhD project investigated how quickly people can learn words and grammar from a previously unknown language. Using behavioural measures and data from EEG recordings, the project found that all learners showed evidence of successful learning within minutes. Interestingly, however, two learner groups differed considerably in the brain mechanisms that they used to processes the newly learned words. The more similar the words were to the learners’ native language, the more automatic and effortless was their processing. Thus, while there were no differences in how quickly learners acquired new words, their language background dictated how well the new words could be integrated into their existing systems.