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Unconscious effects of grammatical gender during object categorisation

Boutonnet, Bastien and Athanasopoulos, Panos and Thierry, Guillaume (2012) Unconscious effects of grammatical gender during object categorisation. Brain Research, 1479. pp. 72-79. ISSN 0006-8993

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Abstract

Does language modulate perception and categorisation of everyday objects? Here, we approach this question from the perspective of grammatical gender in bilinguals. We tested Spanish–English bilinguals and control native speakers of English in a semantic categorisation task on triplets of pictures in an all-in-English context while measuring event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Participants were asked to press a button when the third picture of a triplet belonged to the same semantic category as the first two, and another button when it belonged to a different category. Unbeknownst to them, in half of the trials, the gender of the third picture name in Spanish had the same gender as that of the first two, and the opposite gender in the other half. We found no priming in behavioural results of either semantic relatedness or gender consistency. In contrast, ERPs revealed not only the expected semantic priming effect in both groups, but also a negative modulation by gender inconsistency in Spanish–English bilinguals, exclusively. These results provide evidence for spontaneous and unconscious access to grammatical gender in participants functioning in a context requiring no access to such information, thereby providing support for linguistic relativity effects in the grammatical domain.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Brain Research
Uncontrolled Keywords: Linguistic relativity ; Syntactic gender ; Event-related brain potentials ; Left anterior negativity ; Object categorisation
Subjects:
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Linguistics & English Language
ID Code: 71255
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 17 Oct 2014 11:31
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2017 04:54
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/71255

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