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Neurosci Lett. 2001 Sep 7;310(1):33-6.

Visual attention to words of native versus later acquired languages: a magnetoencephalographic study in humans.

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BioMag Laboratory, Engineering Centre, Helsinki University Central Hospital, P.O. Box 340, FIN-00029 HUS, Helsinki, Finland.


We recorded evoked magnetic fields while short words were visually presented in different languages with an oddball paradigm. The task was to count how many words were in a target language when most of the words were in another language and there were also non-target deviants in a third language. When native words (Finnish) were targets, they evoked a selection response at the latency of 300-600 ms. However, when the task was to count non-native words among native standards, in addition to the targets, also the non-target foreign words evoked the selection response. These results may reflect differences in the selection process for native versus non-native words brought about by different proficiency levels of the languages.

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