Papers & Posters

Age of arrival organizes immigrants’ language learning environment
Catherine Caldwell-Harris, Marianna Starolesky, Svetlana Smashyana, Nadia Vasilyeva
For Russian speaking immigrants to the U.S., age of arrival (AoAr) strongly influenced frequency of using L1 vs. L2 with family and friends, perceived emotionality of the two languages, and self-perceived L1 and L2 proficiency. We argue that AoAr so strongly correlated with these variables because age of immigration is a potent organizing variable: early arrivals have an L1 that is not fully developed, and they encounter a usage environment that is richer in L1 and poorer in L2. Later arrivals encounter the opposite. The environmental variables accompanying early arrival set young immigrants on a path to switching their dominance to L2, putting these learners at risk for less than native speaker attainment of L1. The environmental variables that accompany later arrival facilitate maintaining L1 dominance, and can lead to lack of native speaker attainment of L2. Dominance that solidifies in the 2-3 years after immigration then further dictates usage patterns, with usage patterns then being the proximal mechanism for ultimate proficiency attainments. Immigrant SLA represents a complex dynamical system which should be studied from a multicausal perspective.

When is a First Language More Emotional? Psychophysiological Evidence from Bilingual Speakers
Catherine Caldwell-Harris, Jean Berko Gleason, Ayse Aycicegi-Dinn
This chapter will review recent studies measuring physiological aspects
of bilinguals’ emotional response to stimuli presented in speakers’ first and
second language. We also introduce a new theory, `the emotional contexts
of learning theory’, developed to account for findings from existing
studies of bilingualism and emotion. We then evaluate the data consistent
with this theory, the new predictions it makes, and the overall prospects
for integrating psychophysiological research with cross-linguistic and
cross-cultural research.

Emotion-memory effects in bilingual speakers: A levels-of-processing approach
Aycicegi-Dinn, Ayse & Caldwell-Harris, Catherine (2009).Emotion-memory effects in bilingual speakers: A levels-of-processing approach. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12, 291-303.
The current paper unites two phenomena. The first
is that bilingual speakers report experiencing greater
emotion when using their first language compared to
their second, especially for topics of personal significance
(Marian and Kaushanskaya, 2004; Pavlenko, 2005). For
example, in psychotherapy, the first language is frequently
preferred for emotional topics and the second language for
maintaining an aura of emotional distance (Altarriba and
Santiago-Rivera, 1994; Schrauf, 2000). Anxiety-arousing
stimuli such as taboo and sexual references are more easily
expressed in the second language (Gonzalez-Regiosa,
1976; Harris, Ayc¸ic¸egi and Gleason, 2003; Dewaele,
2004a, b). The second phenomenon is emotion words’
superior recall to neutral words (Rappaport, 1942; Rubin
and Friendly, 1986; Reber, Perrig, Flammer and Walter,
1994). Referred to as the emotion-memory effect, it is
observed when participants perform a task on a list of
words, and are later asked to recall as many words from the
prior task as possible. Emotion words are proposed to have
superior recall to neutral words because they automatically
elicit a deeper level of processing than neutral words due to
their inherent interest or because emotional stimuli recruit
attention (MacKay and Ahmetzanov, 2005; Jay, Caldwell-
Harris and King, 2008).

Emotion and Lying in a Non-native Language
Catherine Caldwell-Harris and Ayşe Ayçiçeği-Dinn
Interviews, surveys, and studies of autobiographical memory
indicate that bilingual speakers experience reduced emotion when
speaking their second language. Surprisingly, a particular type of emotional language, lying, has not been well studied in bilingual populations. Bilingualism, non-native language skills, and related terms were not mentioned in the half dozen books on polygraph testing that have appeared in the last 18 years. An earlier version of the task described in this study was used with Turkish immigrants residing in Boston. Averaging across the stimuli, L1-Turkish stimuli elicited larger skin conductance responses (SCRs) than did L2-English stimuli. The advantage for Turkish was strongest for the category of reprimands of the type that parents use in admonishing children (e.g., “Shame on you” and “Go to your room”).

When Learning to Read Means Learning a Second Language Via Print: The Challenge for Deaf Children
Catherine L. Caldwell-Harris, Robert J. Hoffmeister, Marlon Kuntze

Speech Perception by
Non-Native Speakers Declines Drastically in Noisy Conditions

Catherine Caldwell-Harris, Inna Ryvkin, Andrei Anghelescu, Loraine K. Obler
Presented at the Annual Cognitive Neuroscience Society Meeting in 2009.

Born on the Wrong Planet? Using Forum Postings to Test Hypotheses about Special Interests and Religious Beliefs of Autistic Spectrum Young Adults
Catherine Caldwell-Harris
Uses the website to assess and analyze frequency and patterns of certain religious views of autistic spectrum young adults.


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