USF St. Petersburg campus Master's Theses (Graduate)


Rebecca Porzig

First Advisor

Co-Major Professor: Alejandro Brice, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Co-Major Professor: Christina Salnaitis, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Mark Pezzo, Ph.D.


University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

March 6, 2017


The purpose of this study was to investigate speech recognition among Spanish-English bilingual and English monolingual individuals and to examine blood-oxygenation changes in the prefrontal cortex during the speech recognition task. Twenty-six English-speaking monolingual adults and 10 fluent Spanish-English speaking bilingual adults participated in the study. All participants completed a gating task incorporating monolingual sentences and code-mixed Spanish-English sentences while wearing a functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) band to measure changes in blood-oxygenation. Bilinguals performed equally well to monolinguals when identifying words in both monolingual and code-mixed sentences. Monolinguals identified English words in monolingual sentences more quickly than English words in code-mixed sentences and more quickly than Spanish words in both code-mixed and monolingual sentences. Spanish-English bilinguals were quicker than monolinguals to identify words with voiced initial consonants. All participants were quicker to identify words with CV-tense structure than CV-lax structure. Monolinguals showed higher levels of blood oxygenation than bilinguals when identifying words with voiced initial stop consonants. All participants displayed higher levels of blood oxygenation when identifying CV-lax words than CV-tense words. Results suggest that bilinguals are capable of native-like proficiency, with word-recognition capabilities and brain functioning similar to monolinguals when identifying English words. Bilinguals may also be more sensitive to voice onset time for both Spanish and English words.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Psychology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.