Complex brain network properties in late L2 learners and native speakers

Alejandro Pérez, Margaret Gillon Dowens, Nicola Molinaro, Yasser Iturria-Medina, Paulo Barraza, Lorna García-Pentón, Manuel Carreiras

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Whether the neural mechanisms that underlie the processing of a second language in highly proficient late bilinguals (L2 late learners) are similar or not to those that underlie the processing of the first language (L1) is still an issue under debate. In this study, a group of late learners of Spanish whose native language is English and a group of Spanish monolinguals were compared while they read sentences, some of which contained syntactic violations. A brain complex network analysis approach was used to assess the time-varying topological properties of the functional networks extracted from the electroencephalography (EEG) recording. Late L2 learners showed a lower degree of parallel information transfer and a slower propagation between regions of the brain functional networks while processing sentences containing a gender mismatch condition as compared with a standard sentence configuration. In contrast, no such differences between these conditions were detected in the Spanish monolinguals. This indicates that when a morphosyntactic language incongruence that does not exist in the native language is presented in the second language, the neural activation pattern is configured differently in highly proficient late bilinguals than in monolinguals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-217
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015


  • EEG
  • Graph
  • L2
  • Language
  • Late

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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