Nicholas Feroce

Nicholas Feroce
Mentor: Dr. Edith Kaan
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
 
"I set a goal my freshman year at UF that I wanted to get involved with research before I graduated. I’ve always been a curious person, so the idea of actually getting hands-on experience in a field that I am passionate about was very appealing. My curiosity in psycholinguistics was initially fueled by reflecting on my own language learning experiences and from a paper I read in one of my classes freshman year. I thank Dr. Kaan for taking me on as a member in her lab and encouraging me each semester to get involved in various research opportunities."

Major

Linguistics and Spanish

Minor

Arabic

Research Interests

  • Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Language Contact and Code-Switching

Academic Awards

  • President’s Honor Roll 2013, 2014
  • Dean’s List 2012, 2014
  • Florida Academic Scholar
  • Chevron REACH Scholarship

Organizations

  • Arab Students’ Association
  • UF Linguistics Society
  • ESOL Achievers

Volunteer

  • ESOL Achievers
  • J.J. Finley Elementary ESOL Classroom

Hobbies and Interests

  • Working out
  • Learning languages
  • Traveling

Research Description

Predictive Processing in Bilinguals
In this project, I measure brain waves [event related potentials (ERPs)] to look at how highly or lowly constrained sentences (also referred to as high-cloze and low-cloze contexts, respectively) affect the semantic integration of upcoming words by intermediate-advanced second language (L2) learners of English. Specifically, I will be looking at an ERP component known as the N400. The N400 effect refers to a pronounced negative wave that appears around 400ms after the presentation of a word that is semantically anomalous within in a sentence or is more difficult to integrate, in terms of semantics, into the previous sentence context. For example, in the sentence “I spread my toast with butter and socks,” an N400 effect would show up at the presentation of the word “socks.” Previous studies have shown a larger N400 in low-cloze contexts (ex: I don’t like my ____ hair) as opposed to high-cloze contexts (ex: The barber cut my ____ hair). In this investigation, I employ the use of a delay paradigm, whereby a blank screen, or “gap,” appears in the middle of various high- and low-cloze sentences. I expect to see a larger N400 component upon the presentation of the critical word in the low-cloze conditions compared with the high-cloze conditions. In addition, I expect that the presence of the gap positions will make it easier for the L2 learners to integrate the next word, as the delay may give them more time to integrate the preceding words and anticipate the upcoming word. That is, the N400 will appear more native-like in delay conditions versus the non-delay conditions. This study will provide further insight into what is different in non-native speakers during sentence processing and can help us to improve our focuses in L2 pedagogy.