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Language can be divided into different subsystems. The subsystems I am investigating with ERPs are phonological awareness, semantics, and syntax (grammar).
Earlier studies comparing ERP components in bilinguals and monolinguals do so with adults who acquired their second language at different ages, and have found systems important for grammar to be more sensitive to differences in experience than systems important for semantics.

However, few differences have been reported for groups that acquired L2 prior to puberty. One difficulty for studies on L2 acquisition is to separate the effects of proficiency and AoA that are often confounded such that early acquisition is related to higher proficiency in different aspects of language. Our current studies of bilingual children (6-8 years old) differentiate the effects of AoA and proficiency.

Preliminary analyses suggest effects of AoA and proficiency on different language subsystem. In particular, the semantic subsystem seems dependent on proficiency while the phonological and the syntactic subsystems seem vulnerable to small variations in AoA. Already at a delayed acquisition of about 3 years was the anterior rhyming effect absent and the latency of the posterior rhyming effect longer than in 3- to 5-year old monolingual children. The distribution of the anterior syntactic effect when present was similar to earlier studies in adults (right and medial) while left and lateral in monolingual children.


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