Blog Archives

Shadows of music–language interaction on low frequency brain oscillatory patterns

Electrophysiological studies investigating similarities between music and language perception have relied exclusively on the signal averaging technique, which does not adequately represent oscillatory aspects of electrical brain activity that are relevant for higher cognition. The current study investigated the patterns of brain oscillations during simultaneous processing of music and language using visually presented sentences and auditorily presented chord sequences. Music-syntactically regular or irregular chord functions were presented in sync with syntactically or semantically correct or incorrect words. Irregular chord functions (presented simultaneously with a syntactically correct word) produced an early (150–250 ms) spectral power decrease over anterior frontal regions in the theta band (5–7 Hz) and a late (350–700 ms) power increase in both the delta and the theta band (2–7 Hz) over parietal regions. Syntactically incorrect words (presented simultaneously with a regular chord) elicited a similar late power increase in delta–theta band over parietal sites, but no early effect. Interestingly, the late effect was significantly diminished when the language-syntactic and music-syntactic irregularities occurred at the same time. Further, the presence of a semantic violation occurring simultaneously with regular chords produced a significant increase in later delta–theta power at posterior regions; this effect was marginally decreased when the identical semantic violation occurred simultaneously with a music syntactical violation. Altogether, these results show that low frequency oscillatory networks get activated during the syntactic processing of both music and language, and further, these networks may possibly be shared.

from Brain and Language

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Older Learners in SLA Research: A First Look at Working Memory, Feedback, and L2 Development

A great deal of research into second-language (L2) development focuses on the role of cognitive factors and other individual differences. Studies of children and prime-of-life adult L2 learners suggest that differences exist in the learning processes of these groups. However, to date, little empirical work has been conducted with older adult learners. In this article we argue that older adults’ L2 learning aptitudes, processes, and outcomes merit investigation. We present interaction and working memory (WM) research as a case in point and then, as a preliminary illustration, report on a small-scale study of nine older adults, age 65–89, who were native speakers of Spanish learning English as a second language. These learners carried out communicative tasks with native speakers of English, who provided interactional feedback in response to nontargetlike question forms. Interestingly, the only older learners who showed L2 development were those with the highest scores on a first-language listening-span test of WM. We conclude by proposing that larger scale longitudinal research into the often overlooked population of older L2 learners is likely to shed interesting light on important questions concerning WM and learning processes in the field of second language acquisition.

from Language Learning

Gestural behavior in group oral assessment: a case study of higher- and lower-scoring students

This paper reports on a microanalysis of gestural behavior in classroom assessment situations. Videotaped excerpts of secondary school ESL students engaged in a peer group oral assessment task were transcribed to represent the gestures that occurred during the interaction. Using conversation analysis as a central tool for analysis, this study explored the potential differences in use of gestures between higher- and lower-scoring students in group oral language assessment situations. Results show that gestures of the higher-scoring group appeared to be well synchronized with the flow of speech, turn-taking, as well as other nonverbal behavior such as eye contact and facial expression, whereas the gestural behavior of the lower-scoring group appeared to be an outward sign of language difficulties, disfluency, tension, and lack of confidence, and largely bore no association to the verbal speech. In addition, in the higher-scoring group, gestures seemed to function at all the three discourse levels (paranarrative, metanarrative, and narrative), while in the lower-scoring group, gestures seemed to be utilized predominantly at the paranarrative level and be involved in self-organizational processes. Implications for current oral test criterion modification and for students’ test preparation are discussed.

from the International Journal of Applied Linguistics

Effect of task-irrelevant high-speed verbal stimulation on a visual/verbal word-discrimination task: An event-related potential study

Conclusions
We considered that high-speed speech stimulation was processed without conscious comprehension and competed with verbal processing during the visual-word-discrimination task, possibly by interfering with the use of WM.

from Clinical Neurophysiology

Semantic interaction in early and late bilinguals: All words are not created equally

This study examines L1–L2 interaction in semantic categorization in early and late L2 learners. Word categories that overlapped but were not identical in Arabic and English were tested. Words always showed a ‘wider’ range of application in one language, ‘narrower’ in the other. Three types of categories – ‘classical’, ‘radial’, and ‘homophones’ – were examined. Monolingual Arabic, monolingual English, early bilingual, and late bilingual speakers were tested for their understanding of the Arabic or English words. Early bilinguals’ semantic structure is affected in both directions, late bilinguals’ only in the direction of L1 to L2. Classical categories were most vulnerable to inter-language influence, whereas homophones were least vulnerable. The discussion addresses a developmental model of semantic interaction in early and late bilingual learners.

from Bilingualism: Language and Cognition

Phonological Acquisition in Bilingual Spanish–English Speaking Children

Implications: The results from this study indicate that transfer, deceleration, and a possible variation of the acceleration hypothesis occur in bilingual phonological acquisition. Evidence was found for separation and interaction between the bilingual children’s 2 languages (J. Paradis & F. Genesee, 1996).

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Mediating between predetermined order and chaos: the role of the teacher in task-based language education

Tasks are not blueprints for action. A number of empirical studies carried out in authentic classrooms have shown that teachers and students reinterpret the tasks they are offered by syllabus developers in ways that suit their own purposes, learning needs, and interaction styles. This observation has raised fundamental questions about the degree to which teachers who are working with tasks can make any prediction concerning the learning that will come of out of task-based interactional work. In addition, if learners’ reactions to tasks are fairly unpredictable, teachers may be inclined to associate task-based work with organisational chaos and with the seemingly unattainable challenge of having to cater to every individual learner’s personal whims. Drawing on classroom-based research carried out in Flanders, and describing two task-based lessons that were observed in authentic Dutch as a second language (DSL) classrooms, this paper shows that between the extremes of deterministic predictability on the one hand and complete chaos on the other lies a rich pedagogical space that teachers and learners who work with tasks can exploit to construct shared projects with clearly determined goals.

Taaltaken zijn geen blauwdruk voor activiteit in de klas. Uit heel wat onderzoek naar klasinteractie blijkt dat leerkrachten en leerlingen de taken die ze krijgen voorgeschoteld, herinterpreteren, zodat ze beter aansluiten bij hun leerstijlen, interesses en interactiestijl. Dit roept de vraag op of leerkrachten die met taken werken nog wel enige voorspelling kunnen doen over wat hun leerlingen uit de taakuitvoering zullen leren. Bovendien dreigen heel wat leerkrachten taakgericht onderwijs te associëren met chaos in de klas, en met de schier onhaalbare uitdaging om op alle behoeften en reacties van alle individuele leerlingen te moeten inspelen. Op basis van onderzoek in Vlaamse klassen, en voortbouwend op 2 taakgerichte lessen die werden geobserveerd in Vlaamse NT2-klassen, illustreert dit artikel dat er tussen chaos en complete voorspelbaarheid een rijke pedagogische ruimte ligt. Binnen die pedagogische ruimte gaan leerkrachten en leerlingen samen aan de slag rond een gezamenlijk taakgericht project met duidelijke doeleinden.

from the International Journal of Applied Linguistics

Are Eyebrow Movements Linked to Voice Variations and Turn-taking in Dialogue? An Experimental Investigation

Following our work on the relationship between eyebrow movements and the fundamental frequency of the voice, this article presents the results of a study on this phenomenon, and also on the temporal location of rapid eyebrow movements with respect to speaking turns during dialogue. We used an automatic movement-acquisition system coupled with the simultaneous, synchronized recording of the vocal production. This procedure permits an objective analysis of eyebrow movements in relation to the vocal production. The data obtained showed that the speakers’ rapid eyebrow movements were associated both with turn-taking (occurring right before or right after speaking turn onset) and with changes in the fundamental frequency. These findings suggest that rapid eyebrow movements are mainly linked to motivation and the intention to communicate, and may also act as a focus marker in speech.

from Language and Speech

Are Eyebrow Movements Linked to Voice Variations and Turn-taking in Dialogue? An Experimental Investigation

Following our work on the relationship between eyebrow movements and the fundamental frequency of the voice, this article presents the results of a study on this phenomenon, and also on the temporal location of rapid eyebrow movements with respect to speaking turns during dialogue. We used an automatic movement-acquisition system coupled with the simultaneous, synchronized recording of the vocal production. This procedure permits an objective analysis of eyebrow movements in relation to the vocal production. The data obtained showed that the speakers’ rapid eyebrow movements were associated both with turn-taking (occurring right before or right after speaking turn onset) and with changes in the fundamental frequency. These findings suggest that rapid eyebrow movements are mainly linked to motivation and the intention to communicate, and may also act as a focus marker in speech.

from Language and Speech</em

Are Eyebrow Movements Linked to Voice Variations and Turn-taking in Dialogue? An Experimental Investigation

Following our work on the relationship between eyebrow movements and the fundamental frequency of the voice, this article presents the results of a study on this phenomenon, and also on the temporal location of rapid eyebrow movements with respect to speaking turns during dialogue. We used an automatic movement-acquisition system coupled with the simultaneous, synchronized recording of the vocal production. This procedure permits an objective analysis of eyebrow movements in relation to the vocal production. The data obtained showed that the speakers’ rapid eyebrow movements were associated both with turn-taking (occurring right before or right after speaking turn onset) and with changes in the fundamental frequency. These findings suggest that rapid eyebrow movements are mainly linked to motivation and the intention to communicate, and may also act as a focus marker in speech.

from Language and Speech</em

Language attitudes in interaction1

ABSTRACT
This paper discusses the observation of language attitudes in interaction and argues that these approaches provide invaluable insights for the study of language attitudes. In the first half of the paper, the three different kinds of discourse-based methods of analysis that scholars have used to analyse language attitudes (content-based approaches, turn-internal semantic and pragmatic approaches, and interactional approaches) are discussed. In the second half, then, the third of these approaches is used to illustrate such an analysis with four stretches of conversation in different contexts. In the end, the argument is put forward that discourse-based approaches in general and interactional approaches in particular should be viewed as at least as fundamental to language attitude research as more commonly used quantitative methods of analysis, since the former can provide the researcher with insights that the latter do not.

from Journal of Sociolinguistics

Prosody as a compensatory strategy in the conversations of people with agrammatism

Historically, agrammatism, a symptom of Broca’s aphasia, has been associated with dysprosody, on account of speakers’ slow, halting, and effortful speech. Almost all investigations of this phenomenon use experimental methods (reading, repetition). Thus, little is known about how prosody is used by speakers with agrammatism and understood by their interlocutors in everyday conversations. This paper takes an interactional approach to prosody, using Conversation Analysis to explore everyday conversations between three speakers with agrammatism and their family members/friends, recorded in the home. A distinct prosodic pattern is revealed in their talk, whereby non-final words in an agrammatic utterance are produced with mid-level or minor rising pitch, and final words with a prominent pitch excursion. The analysis shows that conversation partners orient to terminal pitch movement as a signal of turn completion. Conversely, they do not take the floor when pitch signals continuation, despite significant pausing and severe grammatical disruption. Thus, prosody appears to function to regulate turn taking in the same way as it does in typical (non-language disordered) conversation. For these three speakers, intact prosodic skills appear to compensate for impaired grammatical ability, by packaging a series of haltingly produced words into an utterance, the meaning of which is responded to by the conversation partner as the sum of its agrammatic parts.

from Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics

Engagement in Group Therapy for Aphasia

For group therapy for aphasia to be maximally effective, group members must be engaged in the clinical interaction. Engagement is a process through which people establish, maintain, and terminate collaborative exchanges. To investigate the interactive resources employed for managing and monitoring engagement in group therapy interactions, two videotaped conversation therapy groups for aphasia were analyzed via conversation analysis. Examples of clinician behaviors that engaged group members included gaze, body orientation, gesture, and mirrored acts. In addition, gaze, gesture, body position, and shared laughter provided evidence of engagement of group members. The study of these subtle interactive elements within clinical discourse provides information about the mechanisms that promote successful clinical interactions.

from Seminars in Speech and Language

Mealtime interaction patterns between young children with cerebral palsy and their mothers: characteristics and relationship to feeding impairment

from Child: Care, Health and Development

ABSTRACT
Background A significant proportion of children with cerebral palsy have some degree of feeding impairment, which not only affects their ability to obtain adequate nourishment, but may also impinge on their ability to interact with their mothers during mealtimes. The quality of the maternal–child interaction may also be affected by the mealtime being prolonged and/or stressful. Patterns of interaction between mothers and their children with cerebral palsy have typically been described in play situations. There is limited information about interaction during mealtimes. The purpose of this study therefore, was to observe and describe the characteristics of mealtime interaction between mothers and their young children with cerebral palsy, and to determine whether feeding impairment and other sample characteristics were related to interaction patterns.

Methods The participants were 20 mothers and their children with cerebral palsy. Physical, cognitive, and feeding abilities varied. Video recordings of each mother–child dyad interacting during a typical mealtime were analysed in order to describe the structure of the interaction, the communicative functions used, and what method the children used to communicate. The characteristics of the interaction were summarized and compared and the relationship between feeding ability and other child factors and interaction patterns were explored.

Results Results revealed that interactions were maternally dominated. Mothers produced most of the communicative behaviour during the mealtime and used more directive functions than their children. The severity of feeding impairment was related to child patterns of interaction, but not to maternal interaction patterns. Language delay was also related to interaction patterns.

Conclusions The results of this study highlight the importance for professionals to consider mealtime interactions for children with cerebral palsy and their mothers as an integral part of feeding investigations and ongoing interventions, as feeding impairment does seem to have a bearing on aspects of interaction.