• Word Frequency Effects in L2 Speakers: An ERP Study

      DeDe, Gayle; Famoyegun, Akinjide; Dallas, Andrea; Alt, Mary (The University of Arizona., 2012)
      The brain's neural responses to words of different frequencies provide information on lexical organization and the cognitive processes involved in word identification and retrieval of meaning. Monolingual research has shown that exposure to high frequency words yields less cognitive difficulty than low frequency words as demonstrated by smaller N400 waves within even-related potential (ERP) methodology. The purpose of the present study was to compare frequency effects in adult native (L1) and non-native (L2) speakers of English during a sentence reading task embedded with high and low frequency word-pairs. Both L1 and L2 groups produced N400 waves of larger amplitudes for high frequency words compared to low frequency words that peaked around the 400 ms time mark. Group comparison found no significant difference in N400 wave amplitude and peak latency between both groups. The results are discussed with respect to theories of L2 word learning and lexical organization.