Golestani: Language processing in the healthy, multilingual and expert brain
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 18.01.2022 Narly Golestani (University of Geneva) Language processing in the healthy, multilingual and expert brain Abstract There are large individual differences in speech and language processing skills at different levels of the linguistic hierarchy, and these are likely modulated by experience-dependent plasticity but also by possible differences in innate predisposition. I will provide an overview of a body of research in which we have explored brain functional and structural differences underlying speech and language processing, in the context of healthy individual differences but also extending to multilingualism, to language expertise (e.g. in phoneticians and simultaneous interpreters) and to dysfunction (e.g. in dyslexia and aphasia). In this context I will also describe our rapidly growing body of work on variation in auditory cortex anatomy and phonetic learning, dyslexia, aphasia and musicianship, and describe how we plan to explore the relative influences of nature vs nurture on these individual differences, across the lifespan. Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Gámez: Gestures as scaffolding to learn vocabulary in a foreign language
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 11.01.2022 Ana Belén García Gámez (University of Algarve) Gestures as scaffolding to learn vocabulary in a foreign language Abstract In two experimental studies we explored the role of gestures on foreign language (FL) vocabulary learning. First, we evaluated the impact of gestures on nouns (Experiment 1) and verbs learning (Experiment 2). Four training methods were compared: The learning of FL words with congruent gestures, incongruent gestures, meaningless gestures, and no gestures. Better vocabulary learning was found in both experiments when participants learned FL words with congruent gestures relative to the no gesture condition. This result indicates that gestures have a positive effect on FL learning when there is a match between the word meaning and the gesture. However, the recall of words in the incongruent and meaningless gesture condition was lower than that of the no gesture condition. This suggests that gestures might have a negative impact on FL learning. I will analyze these results in terms of FL learning facilitation and interference effects. However, a question remained, do we have to perform the gestures ourselves to observe the learning improvement? A third experiment addressed this topic directly. Participants were divided in two experimental groups. In one group, the participants learned the words by performing gestures (“do” teaching group) and the other group only had to observe the gestures performed by others (“see” teaching group). Compared to the meaningless gesture condition, the processing of congruent gestures facilitated the recall of FL words in the “see” and “do” teaching groups. However, the interference effect associated with the processing of incongruent gestures was greater in the “see” teaching group than in the “do” teaching group. Thus, the performance of gestures seems to mitigate the negative impact that the use of gestures may have on the teaching of vocabulary in a FL. Taken together, iconic gestures might be a good tool to learn new vocabulary in a FL when the gestures and words meaning match. In addition, the gestures performance mitigates negative effects associated with meaning mismatches. Hence, if one has to choose, a FL learning strategy based on the performance of congruent iconic gestures would be desirable. Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Taha: What is wrong with rhythm in developmental dyslexia?
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 14.12.2021 Juhayna Taha (University Milano Bicocca) What is wrong with rhythm in developmental dyslexia? Abstract Individuals with developmental dyslexia (DD) are a heterogenous group and may exhibit co- occurring deficits that go beyond reading itself. Beside the well-recognized weak phonological skills, some children with DD show ideficits in oral language skills (McArthur et al.,2000) and language processing (e.g., Cantiani et al., 2013). Moreover, individuals with DD show motor skill deficits (see Nicolson & Fawcett 2011) such as motor control difficulties in handwriting (Pagliarini et al., 2015). Impairments in rhythm perception and production are also evident in individuals with DD (see Ladányi et al., 2020).Importantly, converging evidence has identified a link between rhythmic abilities and language processing, handwriting and reading in typical and atypical populations (e.g., Corriveau & Goswami, 2009; Friederici et al., 2003; Gordon et al., 2015a; Pagliarini et al., 2015). In this talk, I discuss the idea that that rhythm, as also proposed by other researchers, is key to understanding the reading, language and motor difficulties in individuals with DD. I will review the body of research on rhythmic deficits in individuals with DD across different cognitive domains. Then, I will discuss our view that a deficit in anticipation ( a rhythmic component) impairs reading, some motor activity, as handwriting, rhythmic processing and language. This hypothesis will be referred to as the Inefficient Anticipation Hypothesis. New evidence on the role of rhythmic deficits in the identification of DD in L1 and L2 Italian-speaking children with DD will also be presented. Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Fitzpatrick: Applied linguistics in minoritised language contexts: three case studies from Wales
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 30.11.2021 Tess Fitzpatrick (Swansea University) Applied linguistics in minoritised language contexts: three case studies from Wales Abstract In this lecture I present three applied linguistics projects which are not only situated in, but also motivated by, the linguistic environment of Wales, a bilingual country in the UK. The Welsh language is classed as ‘vulnerable’ in the UNESCO taxonomy of endangered languages; aspects of policy, infrastructure and culture lend some linguistic security, and the Welsh Government’s ambition to double the number of Welsh speakers to 1 million by 2050 has generated new engagement with applied linguists. In partnership with colleagues, practitioners and community members, I have worked on a number of projects relating to pedagogy, language resources, and better understanding the bilingual lexicon. Methodologies we employed include word association experiments, corpus creation, practitioner surveys and scrutiny of research literature and policy reports. I will discuss both our headline findings and the more implicit messages from our work, and consider how these might inform continuing research into bilingualism and minoritised language communities. Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Soare: The acquisition of the morphosyntax of Heritage Romanian in a dominant French setting
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 23.11.2021 Elena Soare (University of Paris 8 & CNRS) The acquisition of the morphosyntax of Heritage Romanian in a dominant French setting Abstract The speakers of a Heritage Language (HL) are bilinguals who learnt a language in their family, but this language is not the majority language of their society. (Montrul, 2016; Polinsky, 2018). One often assumes that in this situation we deal with an unbalanced bilingualism, in which the HL suffers a delay in acquisition, or might be incompletely acquired, and some structures may undergo attrition. Most of the time, Heritage Speakers (HS) participating in the studies are adults from the first or the second generation of immigrants, which leaves uninvestigated the early phase of the acquisition of these languages and does not allow to identify possible differences and correlations between the early linguistic development and what happens after the young HS begin schooling in the dominant language. In this talk, we will present the first results of a pilot study on the acquisition of Heritage Romanian (HR) by children of Romanian immigrants in France (Parisian surroundings). Our goal is to identify some possible differences between the structures which are vulnerable in the acquisition of HR before schooling (age 5-7) and after the beginning of schooling in French (age 8-12), and we collected data from two relevant age groups. We try to answer three questions: (i) can we identify an unbalanced bilingualism in the early acquistion process? (ii) what structures are vulnerable? (iii) is there any difference between these structures in the two groups? Our data come from the first corpus of “frog stories” recorded in HR in France (37 stories collected till now). The children follow a Romanian course in the north surroundings of Paris. We compare the HR of these children to the baseline and to monolingual children from mainland. Our results indicate a difference between HS of Romanian in the younger group and those who have already began schooling in French. Only the latter exhibit an unbalanced bilingualism. The vulnerable structures are, in the case of 5-7 years olds, the same as in monolingual acquisition. Older bilinguals, in turn, show the impact of the dominant language (transfer) in these structures, more precisely properties situated at the interface of syntax and discourse, syntax and morphology, and structures with a complex syntactic derivation. Here, we will investigate in particular relative clauses and Differential Object Marking. Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Carioti: A Reading-Free Tool for screening of dyslexia in monolingual&minority language children
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 16.11.2021 Desiré Carioti (University Milano Bicocca) A Reading-Free Tool for the screening of developmental dyslexia in monolingual and minority language children Abstract Due to the increasing number of immigration flows, students with a foreign familial family, often exposed to two or more languages in the daily life experience are increasing in the Italian school classes. Linguistic experience of these children can vary based on cultural habits, L2 linguistic skills of parents, numerosity of family, and so on, so they are not always skilled bilinguals, but, more specifically, minority language children (MLC) with some degree of exposure to a foreign language in the familial context. Often these children underperform in reading skills compared to Italian monolinguals and show a learning profile similar to those of dyslexic readers (Azzolini et al., 2012). Nevertheless, the intrinsic linguistic nature of the reading process biases the assessment of MLC for learning disorders and does not allow to discern between the disorder or a difficulty due, for example, to a less extended vocabulary in L2. For solving this issue, we developed a computerized “Reading-Free Screening Tool”, aimed at testing children for cognitive markers of developmental dyslexia. The tool was conceived for significantly reducing the involvement of language and, for this reason, aligning with evidence in literature (Bonacina et al., 2015; Flaugnacco et al., 2015; Rautenberg, 2015; Swierk, 2018; Tallal & Gaab, 2006; Thomson & Goswami, 2008), precursors of phonological awareness (i.e., rhythmical skills) were tested together with executive functions and attentional processes, both in the auditory and visual modality. Results of a first exploratory validation in both monolingual and minority language children will be presented, together with limits of the instrument and feature perspectives. References: • Azzolini, D., Schnell, P., & Palmer, J. R. (2012). Educational achievement gaps between immigrant and native students in two “new” immigration countries: Italy and Spain in comparison. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 643(1), 46-77. • Bonacina, S., Lanzi, P. L., Lorusso, M. L., & Antonietti, A. (2015). Improving reading skills in students with dyslexia: the efficacy of a sublexical training with rhythmic background. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 1510. • Flaugnacco, E., Lopez, L., Terribili, C., Montico, M., Zoia, S., & Schön, D. (2015). Music training increases phonological awareness and reading skills in developmental dyslexia: a randomized control trial. PloS one, 10(9), e0138715. • Rautenberg, I. (2015). The effects of musical training on the decoding skills of German‐speaking primary school children. Journal of Research in Reading, 38(1), 1- 17. • Swierk, K. G. (2018). Correlation Between Music and Preliteracy Skills in Preschool Age Children. Scholarly Undergraduate Research Journal at Clark, 4(1), 5. • Tallal, P., & Gaab, N. (2006). Dynamic auditory processing, musical experience and language development. Trends in neurosciences, 29(7), 382-390. • Thomson, J. M., & Goswami, U. (2008). Rhythmic processing in children with developmental dyslexia: auditory and motor rhythms link to reading and spelling. Journal of Physiology-Paris, 102(1-3), 120-129. Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Avila-Varela: Cross-language phonological overlap in bilingual toddlers
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 09.11.2021 Daniela S. Avila-Varela (Pompeu Fabra University) Cross-language phonological overlap in bilingual toddlers Abstract Adult and young bilinguals co-activate their languages in different degrees, even in entirely monolingual tasks/contexts (Spivey & Marian, 1999; Von Holzen, Fennell, & Mani, 2018). Previous research has used cognate words as stimuli. Cognates are translations overlapping in their phonological form (e.g., English “chocolate” /tʃɒklət/ and the Spanish “chocolate” /ʧokolate/). Previously reported cross-language phonological effects cannot be attributed only to phonological overlap between labels because they also overlap at the conceptual level. Here, we analyse how phonological representations across languages influence word recognition of non-cognate words in three-year-old Catalan-Spanish bilinguals. We adapted the visual word paradigm by Chow, Aimola-Davies, & Plunkett (2017). Children saw four pictures after 4100ms of the start of the trial an absent target was named in Catalan, while children saw four pictures: A) a Catalan to Spanish phonological competitor (B) a Spanish to Catalan one, and C) two phonologically unrelated competitors to the absent target named. A logistic growth curve analysis of fixations up to 3000ms after word onset showed that children looked more at the phonologically related competitors through translation than unrelated competitors across the trial. These results support that young bilinguals activate phonologically related competitors (Catalan to Spanish and Spanish to Catalan) in their familiar languages even when no overt phonological overlap is presented. Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Soares: Neurophysiological oscillatory correlates of heritage bilingualism
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 02.11.2021 Sergio Soares (University of Konstanz): Neurophysiological oscillatory correlates of heritage bilingualism Abstract Bilingualism can result in a more fine-tuned executive control system and in structural and functional brain adaptations (see for a review Pliatsikas, 2019). However, the effects of bilingualism studied through the lenses of neural oscillations remain understudied. Here, I will present findings from two projects of my dissertation’s work, comprising resting state EEG (rsEEG) and time-frequency representations (TFRs) data. Rs-EEG activity (frequency power) is related to various cognitive functions and can estimate neurological connectivity (mean coherence) between brain regions. As such, it has emerged in the past few years as a complementary neuroimaging methodological option to investigate the effects of languages in the brain (Bice et al., 2020; Prat et al., 2016). On the other hand, research using TFRs has shown that executive function tasks (e.g. Flanker task - FT) modulate power within theta and alpha frequency bands. These power modulations have been linked to a greater engagement of the executive control system (Cavanagh & Frank, 2014). Herein, we use brainwaves to investigate how individual differences in bilingual language experience may modulate neurocognitive oscillatory outcomes. EEG data for both tasks were collected from heritage speakers (HSs) and late L2 learners. All participants completed the Language and Social Background Questionnaire (LSBQ; Anderson et al., 2018), which quantifies language exposure and crucially the division of usage in diverse variety of activities and settings in the participants’ two languages over the lifespan. We hypothesized degree of active bilingualism would predict changes in frequency bands (mostly in alpha and beta bands) in both early and late bilinguals at both the rs-EEG (power and functional connectivity) and task-based EEG levels.We found main effects of Age of L2/2L1 onset on high beta and gamma powers (i.e., earlier acquisition resulted in higher beta and gamma frequencies) and higher exposure/usage scores from the LSBQ of the non-societal language at home modulated mean coherence effects (functional brain connectivity) in theta, alpha and gamma frequencies for the rs-EEG data. Similarly, individual differences analyses from the FT revealed significant correlations between age, age of acquisition, and usage of the non-societal language at home with alpha and beta band activity for late bilinguals, whereas only age effects were found in early bilinguals. Furthermore, when correlating alpha power with reaction times, early bilinguals showed a negative correlation while later bilinguals show a positive correlation. Results are in line with claims that bilingualism effects are not monolithic, but rather indicate adaptations towards differential brain recruitment to deal with the cognitive demands associated with variation in language experience. Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
György: Rhythmic priming of syntactic processing: a common structure?
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 15th June 2021 Dávid György (University of Geneva): Rhythmic priming of syntactic processing: a common structure? Abstract Recent empirical evidence has shown several correlations between language and musical rhythm processing in typical and atypical populations (Corriveau & Goswami, 2009; Friederici et al., 2003; Gordon et al., 2015a). One line of studies has reported improved syntactic processing following exposure to a rhythmically regular musical prime compared to an irregular musical prime, environmental noise, or silence (Bedoin et al., 2016; Canette et al., 2020, Chern et al., 2018; Przybylski et al., 2013). However, it cannot be ruled out that part of this rhythmic priming effects lies in a disruption from the irregular rhythm rather than a pure facilitatory effect of the regular rhythm as, to our knowledge, no studies have compared an irregular prime with a baseline condition. The present study aimed to directly compare the effects of regular and irregular primes as well as a silent baseline on syntactic processing. In two experiments, Frenchspeaking typical adults underwent rhythmic priming and completed a grammaticality judgement task in a semi-artificial Jabberwocky language. In both experiments, results showed that rhythmic priming can influence syntactic processing, though only in the first three sentences after a prime rather than six sentences as usually reported for natural language stimuli. Experiment 1 showed a disadvantage of the irregular condition compared to the regular and silence conditions. However, the block design of this experiment may have confounded our findings. Experiment 2 sought to remedy this by using a mixed design. Results showed higher grammaticality judgement accuracy in the regular than in the irregular condition, with a marginal advantage of regular over silence. Furthermore, grammaticality judgement accuracy correlated with performance in a rhythm discrimination task, while participants’ ability to anticipate a metronome beat showed a relationship with the number of languages they spoke. These findings are discussed in the frameworks of Dynamic Attending (Large & Jones, 1999) and hierarchical structure building in musical rhythm and language processing (Fitch & Martins, 2014; Heard & Lee, 2019). Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Paradis: Bilingual development in first generation Syrian refugee children
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 8th June 2021 Johanne Paradis (University of Alberta): Bilingual development in first generation Syrian refugee children: What factors contribute to successes and challenges? Abstract The number of refugees worldwide is the highest ever recorded and over half are children (UNHCR, 2017). Children from refugee families can have experiences that set them apart from other migrant children, e.g., interrupted schooling, witnessing and being the victims of violence, loss of and separation from family members, displacement and frequent transitions, residing in refugee camps or detention centres (Graham et al. 2016; Sirin & Rogers-Sirin 2015; Kaplan et al. 2016). Post-migration, refugee families can also face economic and social integration difficulties and many child refugees struggle with socioemotional wellbeing and mental health post- migration (Bronstein & Montgomery, 2011; Stewart et al., 2019). Such adverse experiences could well impact these children’s development of both their first language (L1) and their second language (L2). For example, interrupted schooling could result in lower than age-expected abilities in the L1. In addition, since mental distress interferes with cognitive functioning and learning (Yasik et al., 2007), it could, in turn, interfere specifically with language learning. To date, little research has focused on the bilingual development in refugee children separate from other populations of bilingual children. Furthermore, while much recent research has focused on sources of individual differences in bilingual development such as, age, cognitive and input factors (Chondrogianni, 2018; Paradis, 2016; Unsworth, 2016), very little research has examined the influence of wellbeing and adversity factors in particular. In this talk, I will present research from a longitudinal study on the bilingual development of Syrian refugee children recently arrived in Canada. The focus will be on sources of individual differences in their Arabic-L1 and English-L2 development, including age of arrival, quality and quantity of input- output, parental education, family size, as well as pre-migration adversity factors and concurrent socioemotional wellbeing. The influence of these factors on children’s lexical, morphosyntactic and narrative abilities in both languages across time will be discussed. The overall goal of the talk is to reveal what poses challenges to these children’s dual language development as well as what underlies their successes. The educational and clinical implications of this research will be discussed. Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Eikerling:Computerized bilingual screenings of DLD and developmental dyslexia in bilingual children
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 1st June 2021 Maren Eikerling (IRCCS - Associazione La Nostra Famigli 'Istituto scientifico Eugenio Medea'): Computerized bilingual screenings of developmental language disorder and developmental dyslexia in bilingual children Abstract Distinguishing Developmental Dyslexia (DD) or Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) in bilinguals from variation in language acquisition due to heterogenous language input challenges clinicians (Grimm & Schulz, 2014). To reliably identify the risk of DLD/DD in bilingual children, both languages spoken should be assessed (see Position Paper MULTI-SLI, 2015). This can be done through computer- ized screening tasks that are automatically administered in both languages while accuracy and speed are measured (cf. Bigagli & Lorusso, 2014). The MuLiMi web-application has been developed with this aim, in a collaboration between IRCCS Medea and Politecnico di Milano, within the MultiMind project. Current projects related to MuLiMi focus on a) the evaluation of user-friendliness of the web-applica- tion and b) evaluation of its diagnostic accuracy through analyses of the correlations with results in standardized tests and of its capacity to discriminate between typical and atypical development (as emerging from formal diagnoses with the help of parental questionnaires). The child’s performance is automatically evaluated and measured based on response times and accuracy. Among others, screenings for Italian children living in Germany aged 4 to 6 (study 1 on DLD risk) and for 7-9-year-old children (study 2 on DD risk) were created using language-specific and language-uni- versal clinical markers. Based on these, Italian and German screening tasks were implemented on Mu- LiMi. Additionally, standardized German tests (using bilingual norms where available) were adminis- tered. Furthermore, parents as well as Speech and Language Therapists or teachers filled in question- naires on the child’s (language) development. Preliminary results show convergent information from performances in experimental and standardized tests. Platform features, screening contents and preliminary results will be presented. Implications regarding the potential reduction of misdiagnoses as well as limitations concerning the testing modalities will be discussed. References Bigagli, A. & Lorusso, M. L., (2014). Predittori della lettura in italiano L2 in bambini di madre- lingua cinese. Lucca, Italy: XXIII Congresso Nazionale AIRIPA. Grimm, A. & Schulz, P. (2014). Specific Language Impairment and Early Second Language Ac- quisition. The Risk of Over- and Underdiagnosis, Child Indicators Research, 7: 821 – 841. MULTI-SLI (2015). Position paper on language impairment in multilingual children. http://www.code.thomasmore.be/sites/www.code.thomasmore.be/files/media/Position-statement- MULTI-SLI.pdf (access 31.03.2021) Organised by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Jagiellonian University, University of Konstanz, University Milano-Bicocca, University of Reading and the Marie Curie ITN project 'The Multilingual Mind' (765556).
Yee: Multilingualism effects on brain structure
'The Multilingual Mind: Lecture series on multilingualism across disciplines' 25th May 2021 Jia’en Yee (University Putra Malaysia): Multilingualism effects on brain structure Abstract A growing body of research has suggested that the acquisition and processing of a second language leads to structural changes in the brain (Hayakawa & Marian, 2019; Pliatsikas, 2019). However, the trajectory and limits of these adaptations remain unclear, particularly so with increasing language experience and expertise such as the acquisition and processing of a third or fourth language. This talk highlights the structural adaptations relating to bilingualism and reviews the available evidence in the effects of multilingualism. Parallels and contrasts will be drawn between bilingualism and multilingualism using theoretical frameworks like the Dynamic Restructuring Model (Pliatsikas, 2020). Finally, some fresh evidence from monolinguals, bilinguals and multilinguals will be presented to show the dynamic process of subcortical restructuring, and more specifically demonstrate the concept of struct