Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Paola (Giuli) Dussias

Paola (Giuli) Dussias
Professor of Spanish, Linguistics and Psychology
Interim Director of Graduate Studies

439 Burrowes

Phone: (814) 865-1122

Curriculum Vitae:


Paola (Giuli) Dussias Profile Image


PhD, Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, University of Arizona
Dissertation Title: Switching at no cost: Investigating Spanish-English Intrasentential Codeswitching. Using the Response-Contingent Sentence Matching Task.
Director: Dr. Rudolph Troike

Research Interests:

Bilingualism, Psycholinguistics, Syntactic Processing, Hispanic Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition, Code-switching, Spanish Heritage Language


I am a Professor of Spanish in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese with an affiliate appointment in the Department of Psychology. I completed my doctoral studies in the interdisciplinary program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching at the University of Arizona, with a specialization in linguistic analysis and a minor concentration in second language processing. I then held a faculty position at the University of Illinois for four years (1996-2000), where I was a primary collaborator in pioneering a computer-enhanced Spanish language instruction curriculum consisting of mixed classroom and computer-assisted instruction. Prior to assuming my current position at Penn State, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi (2000-2001), where I was hired to implement the model for the Spanish language curriculum developed at Illinois.  Click on the following link for my Lab page.


My research program takes a cross-disciplinary approach to bilingual language processing using converging methodological tools from linguistics, experimental psycholinguistics, and second language acquisition. The primary focus of my research concerns bilingual sentence processing. The students in my lab and I examine whether language-specific information is largely kept independent when bilinguals compute or parse an initial syntactic structure for the sentences they read, or whether information from one language influences parsing decisions in the other language.

In addition, because of our interest in cognitive aspects of bilingualism and in language contact phenomena, we have conducted a series of studies on code-switching. Proficient bilinguals often code-switch in the midst of speaking with other bilinguals and the linguistic principles that govern the observed switches have been a focus of debate. Although code switching performance has been analyzed primarily from the perspective of bilingual speakers, there are critical consequences for comprehension because unlike production, which is under the control of the speaker, comprehension is unpredictable. To investigate the relationship that exists between the frequency of occurrence of code-switches in naturalistic data (i.e., production data) and the ease with which the comprehension mechanism processes these code-switches, we use eye-tracking methods to examine the reading of code-switched sentences as well as the comprehension of spoken code-switches.

Research Opportunities for Undergraduate Students

The graduate students in my lab and I are always looking for motivated undergraduate students with an interest in second language acquisition and bilingualism, who would like to gain research experience in data collection, data analysis, and experimental design. Announcements are posted on the 3rd floor in Burrowes Building, the 6th floor in Moore Building, and on the website of the Center for Language Science ( Interested students are also welcome to contact me directly at

Recent Publications

*indicates publications with current and former graduate students and postdoctoral fellows

*Beatty-Martínez, A. L., Navarro-Torres, C., Dussias, P. E., Guzzardo Tamargo, R. E., Kroll, J. F. (accepted). Interactional context determines the consequences of bilingualism for language and cognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

*Contemori, C., & Dussias, P. E. (accepted). The processing of subject pronouns in highly proficient L2 English speakers. Glossa.

Contemori, C., Pozzan, L., Galinsky, P., & Dussias, P. E. (accepted). When actions and looks don’t line up: The contribution of referential and prosodic information in the processing of PP ambiguities in child-L2 speakers of English. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism.

Dussias, P. E., Kroll, J. F., Fricke, M., & Johns, M. A. (accepted). Language contact in the lab. In E. Adamou & Y. Matras (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Language Contact.

*Pulido, M., Dussias, P. E. (accepted). Desirable difficulties while learning collocations in a second language: Conditions that induce L1 interference improve learning. Bilingualism, Language and Cognition.

*Beatty-Martínez, A. L., & Dussias, P. E. (2019). Adaptive control and brain plasticity: A multidimensional account of the bilingual experience and its relation to cognition. In I.A. Sekerina, L. Spradlin, & V. Valian, (Eds.), Bilingualism and executive function: An interdisciplinary approach.

Contemori, C., & Dussias, P. E. (2019). Prediction at the Discourse Level in Spanish–English Bilinguals: An Eye-Tracking Study. Frontiers in Psychology.

Dussias, P. E., Beatty-Martínez, A. L.., Johns, M. A., & Pulido, M. (2019). Sentence Processing in Monolingual and Bilingual Speakers. Oxford Bibliographies in Linguistics.

Dussias, P. E., Valdés Kroff, J. R., Beatty-Martínez, A. L., Johns, M. A. (2019). What language experience tells us about cognition: Variable input and interactional contexts affect Updated September 02, 2019 6 bilingual sentence processing. In J. Schwieter, (Ed.), The Handbook of the Neuroscience of Multilingualism” (pp. 467-484). Wiley-Blackwell.

Dussias, P. E., Valdés Kroff, J. R., Johns, M., & Villegas, A. (2019). How bilingualism affects syntactic processing in the native language: Evidence from eye movements. In Monika S. Schmid and Barbara Köpke (Eds.), The Oxford University Press Handbook on Language Attrition (pp. 98-107). Oxford University Press.

Johns, M. A., Valdés Kroff, J. R., Dussias, P. E. (2019). Mixing things up: How blocking and mixing affect the processing of codemixed sentences. International Journal of Bilingualism, 23, 584-611. Pulido, M. F. & Dussias, P. E. (2019) The Neural Correlates of Conflict Detection and Resolution During Multiword Lexical Selection: Evidence from Bilinguals and Monolinguals.