[PS-1.4] Cross-language activation in deaf Italian Sign Language (LIS)-Italian bilinguals: are LIS phonological forms activated automatically?

Bonsignori, C. 1, 2 , Rinaldi, P. 2 & Demestre, J. 3

1 Sapienza University of Rome
2 Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, National Research Council of Italy, Rome
3 Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona

The study investigates the visual word processing in deaf bimodal bilinguals proficient in Italian Sign Language (LIS) and Italian. Specifically, we addressed the parallel activation of LIS phonology in an Italian reading task adapting the paradigm proposed by Morford and colleagues in 2011. Ten deaf bimodal bilinguals and twenty hearing Italian native speakers as control group were asked to judge whether pairs of Italian written words were semantically related. Half of the pairs were phonologically related in LIS, but not in Italian, while the remaining half were not phonologically related neither in LIS nor in Italian. To avoid conscious translations during the task, the time available for lexical processing has been reduced by setting the SOA at 300ms in all trials. The results are consistent with previous studies and show a significant effect of phonological relation on the RTs of deaf participants judging semantically unrelated pairs. RTs of hearing participants did not differ between conditions. A significant effect of phonological relation on error rate was also found, but only for deaf participants in the semantically unrelated condition. These results indicate that bimodal bilinguals? lexicon is cross-linguistically integrated, suggesting strong associations between phonological representations of signs and orthographic representations of words