[PS-2.71] The Cognate Facilitaiton Effect: How L1 and L2 Lexical Variables Affect Bilingual Visual Word Processing

Orihuela, K. 1, 2, 3 , Giraudo, H. 1, 2, 3 , Rietmolen, N. 1, 4 & Kim, A. 5, 6

1 Université de Toulouse - Jean Jaurés, France
3 CLLE (Cognition, Langues, Langage, Ergonomie)
4 Octogone-Lordat (Laboratoire de Neuropsycholinguistique)
5 University of Colorado, Boulder
6 Institute of Cognitive Science, UC Boulder

The mechanisms involved in bilingual language processing have long interested psycholinguists, who have used cognates as the main linguistic tool to explore this issue. Cognates are words that have the same linguistic derivation across languages and therefore share form and meaning (with different degrees of overlap); it has been claimed that when reading a cognate, bilinguals process it easier (smaller N400 amplitudes), faster and more accurately. This is known as the ?cognate facilitation effect?. To better understand how lexical variables modulate this effect, a cross-linguistic study was carried out comparing highly proficient Spanish-English bilinguals and English monolinguals. All participants performed a Lexical Decision Task for English - Spanish identical cognates with a wide written frequency range, and equivalent English non-cognate control words (matched in frequency and length). Results showed different ERP?s patterns and a cognate facilitation effect for bilinguals (smaller reaction times and error rates) when compared to monolinguals, these differences are specially observed when looking at words with extreme frequency values (high and low, but not medium). We conclude that the psychological representation and access of cognate words is facilitated for bilinguals due to a shared representation across languages.