Arithmetic processing in bilingual educators: An event related potentials study




Cortinas, Christina

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Event-related potentials were examined in the language of learning arithmetic (LolA) and the second learned language (Ll2) in bilingual math educators, with a specific focus on the arithmetic N400 component. The N400 effect provides a measure of arithmetic processing of incongruent and congruent arithmetic concepts. Bilingual math educators who teach arithmetic in their second-learned language (Ll2) have the unique opportunity to implicitly strengthen the Ll2 arithmetic network, while bilingual math educators who teach in their LolA, are not afforded this opportunity. This experience in Ll2 should modulate the N400 effect across groups and within the Ll2 arithmetic network, with larger N400 effects reflective of the strength of the arithmetic network. Participants were presented and asked to judge the correctness of simple multiplication problems. The results indicated that both groups displayed similar amplitudes of the N400 effect across both languages regardless of experience. However, an exploratory analysis revealed a difference in the speed of access not in LolA or Ll2, but in the current teaching language compared to the non-teaching language. The results are discussed with reference to the effects of the general use of arithmetic concepts and the current use of language as determinants of arithmetic processing efficiency.


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Bilingualism, Evoked Potentials, Language, Mathematical Ability