Co-Major Professor: Alejandro Brice, Ph.D.
Co-Major Professor: Christina Salnaitis, Ph.D.
Mark Pezzo, Ph.D.
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
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.
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Porzig, Rebecca, "Neural Activation in Bilinguals and Monolinguals during a Word-Recognition Task" (2017). USF St. Petersburg campus Master's Theses (Graduate).