[PS-1.18] The cross road between iconicity and phonology during sign language processing - an ERP study

Ormel, E. 1 , Giezen, M. 2, 4 , van Zuilen, M. 1 , Smoll, L. 3 , Schiller, N. 3 & Snijders, T. 1

1 Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2 University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
3 Leiden University, The Netherlands
4 Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, San Sebastian, Spain

Previous studies on iconicity effects in sign processing have yielded mixed results. One possible explanation is that these studies gauged iconicity at different levels. For example, at the level of the whole sign iconicity may increase semantic processing, while at the phonological level iconicity may reduce phonological processing. In the present study, we therefore investigated the possible interaction between iconicity and phonological processing in sign recognition. We do so by extending a previous ERP study of phonological priming by Guttierez et al. (2012), who found an enhanced N400 for phonologically-related sign pairs in deaf Spanish signers. Specifically, we examined effects of iconicity on lexical and phonological processing using a delayed primed lexical decision paradigm and measuring ERPs. Prime signs were manipulated for iconicity and phonological overlap with the target signs (always iconic) in a crossed factorial design. The participants were 25 deaf proficient signers of NGT (Sign Language of the Netherlands) and 25 Dutch hearing non-signers. In addition, participants completed a semantic priming experiment to facilitate comparison of any ERP component related to iconicity in the main study to those involved in semantic processing more broadly. Data analysis is still ongoing and will be completed before the summer.