Semantic Congruity Effects in Non-native ASL Interpreters with Signed Sentences: An ERP Study
The study of language acquisition and proficiency within bimodal bilinguals (i.e., individuals who communicate in spoken and visual languages) is an understudied area of cognitive and linguistic research. The majority of research exploring language processing in bimodal bilinguals has focused on native populations who have learned American Sign Language (ASL) in the home from their deaf or hard-of-hearing parent(s). There is a dearth of research investigating these language processes in late learners of ASL. The N400 is an event-related potential (ERP) that is largest for semantic incongruities. No study to date has looked at the possible relationship between years of interpreting experience and semantic congruity effects, as measured by the N400, in ASL interpreters. The results of this pilot study will shed light on cognitive language processing mechanisms of bimodal bilinguals and help to characterize language acquisition in this population. The conclusions of this study may initiate the investigation of language processing of bimodal bilinguals from various populations (e.g., late learners of ASL or English in deaf and hearing populations).