The Cognitive Neuroscience of Second Language Acquisition

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9781405155427: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Second Language Acquisition

This volume explores the cognitive neuroscience of second language acquisition from the perspectives of critical/sensitive periods, maturational effects, individual differences, neural regions involved, and processing characteristics. The research methods used include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and event related potentials (ERP).


  • The studies in this volume provide initial answers to core questions including: which brain areas are reliably activated in second language processing? Are they the same or different from those activated in first language acquisition and use? And what are the behavioral consequences of individual differences among brains?

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The articles in this volume explore the cognitive neuroscience of second language acquisition from the perspectives of critical/sensitive periods, maturational effects, individual differences, neural regions involved, and processing characteristics. The research methodologies used include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and event related potentials (ERP). Questions addressed include: Which brain areas are reliably activated in second language processing? Are they the same or different from those activated in first language acquisition and use? What are the behavioral consequences of individual differences among brains? What are the consequences of anatomical and physiological differences, learner proficiency effects, critical/sensitive periods? What role does degeneracy, in which two different neural systems can produce the same behavioral output, play? What does it mean that learners' brains respond to linguistic distinctions that cannot be recognized or produced yet? The studies in this volume provide initial answers to all of these questions.

About the Author:

John H. Schumann is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has a doctoral degree in education with a specialization in human development from Harvard University. His research includes work on second language acquisition, the neurobiology of language, and the evolution of language. He is the author of The Neurobiology of Affect in Language (Blackwell, 1997) and is a co-author of The Neurobiology of Learning (2004).

Peter Indefrey is Principal Investigator at the F.C. Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging in Nijmegen and, together with Marianne Gullberg, Head of the research project "The Dynamics of Multilingual Processing" at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. He has a M.D. and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. His research is on first and second language processing and its neural correlates. Some of his favorite topics are syntactic and morphological processing, word production, reading, and the development of language processing in L2 learners. He has published in a variety of journals, including Cognition, PNAS, Neuroimage, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Brain and Language, and Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Marianne Gullberg is a Scientific Staff member at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen and, together with Peter Indefrey, Head of the research project "The Dynamics of Multilingual Processing" at this Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Lund University, Sweden. Her research focuses on the processing of second and third languages, particularly at the earliest stages of acquisition and at the advanced or bilingual stage. Topics covered range from lexical semantics, implicit learning, cross-linguistic (bi-directional) influences, code-switching, and the production and comprehension of gestures in a cross-linguistic perspective. She has published in a variety of journals, including Language Learning, Journal of Child Language, and Pragmatics & Cognition.

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