25.3076, Diss: Neurolinguistics: Faretta-Stutenberg: 'Individual Differences in Context...'

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LINGUIST List: Vol-25-3076. Tue Jul 29 2014. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 25.3076, Diss: Neurolinguistics: Faretta-Stutenberg: 'Individual Differences in Context...'

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Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:06:42
From: Mandy Faretta-Stutenberg [mfs at niu.edu]
Subject: Individual Differences in Context: A Neurolinguistic Investigation of Working Memory and L2 Development

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Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago 
Program: Hispanic Studies 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2014 

Author: Mandy L Faretta-Stutenberg

Dissertation Title: Individual Differences in Context: A Neurolinguistic
Investigation of Working Memory and L2 Development 

Dissertation URL:  https://niu.academia.edu/MandyFarettaStutenberg/Dissertation

Linguistic Field(s): Neurolinguistics

Dissertation Director(s):
Kara Morgan-Short

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis examines the interplay between external and internal factors in second language 
acquisition by analyzing the role of individual differences in experiential (language contact) and 
cognitive (working memory) factors in linguistic development that takes place in traditional, at 
home classroom settings and during study abroad. The study aims to provide a multi-dimensional 
perspective on these relationships by assessing both behavioral and neural evidence. The study 
assesses changes in linguistic abilities (overall proficiency, grammaticality judgments, and oral 
production accuracy) and online processing (event-related potentials elicited during 
grammaticality judgment task) among intermediate-level learners of Spanish as a second 
language. Changes in proficiency and processing over the course of one semester of study are 
analyzed with regard to reported language contact hours and working memory abilities. Analyses 
revealed that learners in both the At Home and Study Abroad groups evidenced behavioral and 
processing changes from pre- to post-semester. Within the At Home group, language contact and 
working memory accounted for changes in (1) overall proficiency and (2) online processing of 
grammatical gender agreement on adjectives. Within the Study Abroad group, language contact 
accounted for (1) gains in judgment and production accuracy for grammatical gender agreement 
on adjectives and (2) changes in online processing of adjective agreement violations. Working 
memory did not account for behavioral or processing changes within the Study Abroad group. 
Results of this study contribute data to context-based and neurocognitive approaches to second 
language acquisition research. They also provide preliminary answers to Collentine and Freed’s 
(2004) call for theories of language acquisition and processing to take into consideration cognitive 
abilities and context of learning. Future research that utilizes a multidimensional approach 
informed by the fields of second language acquisition and cognitive neuroscience is likely to 
provide further insights into the relationships between external and internal factors in linguistic 
development and have significant implications for identifying the predictors of successful second 
language acquisition among adult learners.

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