Paola (Giuli) Dussias

Paola (Giuli) Dussias
Distinguished Professor of Spanish, Linguistics and Psychology
On sabbatical July 1, 2024-June 30, 2025.

439 Burrowes

Phone: (814) 865-4252

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

Representative Publications (*indicates publications with current and former graduate and undergraduate students, and post-doctoral fellows).

  • Dussias, P. E. (in press). Sintaxis y cognición. In Guillermo Rojo Sánchez, María Victoria Vázquez Rozas & Rena Torres Cacoullos, (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Spanish Syntax.
  • *Johns, M. A., & Dussias, P. E. (in press). Comparing Single-Word Insertions and Multi-Word Alternations in Bilingual Speech: Insights from Pupillometry. Languages.
  • *Navarro-Torres, C., Dussias, P. E., & Kroll, J. F. (in press). When exceptions matter: Bilinguals regulate their dominant language to exploit structural constraints in sentence production. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience.
  • Dussias, P. E. (2022). Theoretical Perspectives on Psycholinguistics. In Aline Godfroid & Holger Hopp, (Eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition and Psycholinguistics. Routledge.
  • *López-Beltrán, P., Johns, M. A., Dussias, P. E., Lozano, C., & Palma, A. (2022). The effects of information structure in the processing of word order variation in the second language. Second Language Research, 7, 1-32.
  • *Román, P., Kaan, E., Dussias, P.E. (2022). Access to verb bias and plausibility information during yntactic processing in adult Spanish-English bilinguals. Bilingualism, Language and Cognition, 25, pp. 417-429. doi:10.1017/S1366728921000924
  • *Beatty-Martínez, A. L., Bruni, M. R., Bajo, M. T., & Dussias, P. E. (2021). Brain potentials reveal differential processing of masculine and feminine grammatical gender in native. Spanish speakers. Psychophysiology, 58. DOI: 10.1111/psyp.13737
  • *Connell, K., Puscama, G., Pinzón-Coimbra, J., Rembalski, J., Xu, G.., Valdés Kroff, J., Bajo, M. T., Dussias, P. E. (2021). Phonologically Cued Lexical Anticipation in L2 English: A Visual World Eye-Tracking Study. In Danielle Dionne and Lee-Ann Vidal Covas (Eds), Proceedings of the 45th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 171-183). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
  • *Johns, M. A., Rodrigo, L., Winneg, A., Guzzardo-Tamargo, R. E., & Dussias P. E. (2021). Priming and Persistence in Bilinguals: What codeswitching tells us about the time course of lexical priming in sentential contexts. Bilingualism, Language and Cognition, 24, 681-693. doi:10.1017/S1366728921000080
  • *Beatty-Martínez, A. L., Navarro-Torres, C. A., Dussias, P. E., Bajo, M. T., Guzzardo Tamargo, R. E., & Kroll, J. F. (2020). Interactional context mediates the consequences of bilingualism for language
    and cognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46, 1022-1047.
  • *Dussias, P. E., Kroll, J. F., Fricke, M., & Johns, M. A. (2020). Language contact in the lab. In E. Adamou & Y. Matras (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Language Contact.
  • *Pulido, M., Dussias, P. E. (2020). Desirable difficulties while learning collocations in a second language: Conditions that induce L1 interference improve learning. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 23(3), 652-667.
  • *Valdés Kroff, J. R., Román, P., & Dussias, P. E. (2020). Are all code-switches processed alike? Examining semantic v. language unexpectancy. Frontiers in Psychology.
  • *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. Brain Sciences, 9, 110. doi: 10.3390/brainsci9050110
  • Kroll, J. F., Dussias, P. E., & Bajo, T. (2018). Language use across international contexts: shaping the minds of L2 speakers. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (Issue on International Language Learning), 38, pp. 60-79.
  • *Beatty-Martínez, A. L., & Dussias, P. E. (2018). Tuning to languages: Experience-based approaches to the language science of bilingualism. Linguistics Vanguard. doi:
  • *Contemori, C., Pozzan, L., Galinsky, P., Dussias, P.E. (2018). When actions and looks don’t line up: The contribution of referential and prosodic information in the processing of PP ambiguities in bilinguals. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 10, 623-656.
  • *Beatty-Martínez, A. L., & Dussias, P. E. (2017). Bilingual experience shapes language processing: Evidence from codeswitching. Journal of Memory and Language, 95, 173 190.
  • *Valdés Kroff, J. R., Dussias, P. E., Gerfen, C., & Perrotti L. (2017). Experience with code-switching modulates the use of grammatical gender during sentence processing. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 7, 163-198. doi: 10.1075/lab.15010.val
  • *Dussias, P. E., Valdés Kroff., R. E., & Guzzardo Tamargo, R. E. (2017). When cognate status produces no benefits: Investigating cognate effects during the processing of code-switched sentences. Bilingualism: A Framework for Understanding the Mental Lexicon. In M. Libben and G. Libben (Eds.), Bilingualism: A framework for understanding the mental lexicon (pp. 143-180), John Benjamins.
  • *Contemori, C., & Dussias, P. E. (2016). Referential choice in a second language: evidence for a listener-oriented approach. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 31, 1257-1272.
  • *Dussias, P. E., Gullifer, J., & Poepsel, T. (2016). How psycholinguistics can inform contact linguistics: Converging evidence against a decreolization view of Palenquero. In A. Schwegler, J. McWhorter, & L. Ströbel (Eds.), The Iberian Challenge: Creole Languages Beyond the Plantation Setting (pp. 181-204). Iberoamericana Vervuert, Frankfurt.
  • *Fricke, M., Kroll, J. F., & Dussias, P. E. (2016). Phonetic variation in codeswitched speech: A lens for studying the production-comprehension link. Journal of Memory and Language, 89, 110- 137. DOI: 10.1016/j.jml.2015.10.001
  • *Guzzardo Tamargo, R.E, Valdés Kroff, J. R., & Dussias, P. E. (2016). Examining the relationship between comprehension and production processes in code-switched language. Journal of Memory and Language, 89, 138-161.
  • Kroll, J. K., & Dussias, P. E. (2016). Language and Productivity for all Americans. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Commission on Language Learning.
  • Piñar, P. Carlson, M., Morford, J., & Dussias, P. E. (2016). Bilingual deaf readers’ use of semantic and syntactic cues in the processing of English relative clauses. Bilingualism, Language and Cognition, Published online: 29 June 2016. DOI:
  • *Kroll, J. F., Dussias, P. E., Bice, K., & Perrotti, L. (2015). Bilingualism, mind, and brain. In M. Liberman & B. H. Partee (Eds.), Annual Review of Linguistics, pp. 377-394.
  • *Dussias, P. E., Valdés Kroff, J. R., Guzzardo Tamargo, R. E., & Gerfen, C. (2013). When gender and looking go hand in hand: Grammatical gender processing in L2 Spanish. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 35, 353-387.
  • Kroll, J. F., & Dussias, P. E. (2012). The comprehension of words and sentences in two languages. In T. Bhatia & W. Ritchie (Eds.), The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, 2nd Edition, (pp. 216-243). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Publishers.
  • Dussias, P. E., Marful, A., Gerfen, C., Bajo, M. T. (2010). Usage frequencies of complement-taking verbs in Spanish and English: Data from Spanish monolinguals and Spanish-English bilinguals. Behavior Research Methods, 42, 1004-1011.
  • Dussias, P. E., & Piñar, P. (2010). Effects of reading span and plausibility in the reanalysis of wh-gaps by Chinese-English second language speakers. Second Language Research, 26, 443-472.
  • *Dussias, P. E., & Cramer Scaltz, T. R. (2008). Spanish-English L2 speakers’ use of subcategorization bias information in the resolution of temporary ambiguity during second language reading. Acta Psychologica, 128, 501-513. DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2007.09.004
  • Dussias, P. E., & Sagarra, N. (2007). The effect of exposure on syntactic parsing in Spanish English bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 10, 101-116.
  • Dussias, P. E. (2003). Spanish-English code-mixing at the auxiliary phrase: Evidence from eye-movement data. Revista Internacional de Lingüística Iberoamericana, 2, 7-34.

Grants (Selected)


  • 2021-2025 National Science Foundation (NRT 2125865). Linguistic diversity across the lifespan (LINDIV): transforming training (PI Janet van Hell; Co-PIs Paola E. Dussias, Carrie Jackson, Carol Miller). Funding to provide transdisciplinary training to graduate students in order to address a societal need for attentiveness to linguistic and cultural diversity in the development of technology to advance human-technology interaction, $2,999,920
  • 2016-2022 National Science Foundation (OISE 1545900). Translating cognitive and brain science in the laboratory and field to language learning environments (PI at UC Riverside, Judith F. Kroll; PI at Penn State, Paola E. Dussias; Co-PIs at Penn State, John Lipski, Janet van Hell). Funding to promote international engagement by US undergraduate and graduate students to translate language science research to learning environments, $5,000,000

External Funding to Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows (Selected)

  • 2022-2023 National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Award (BCS- 2146232) Doctoral Dissertation Research: Examining the Role of Literacy on Predictive Processing during Spoken Language Comprehension (PI, Paola E. Dussias, Co-PI Jessica Vélez-Avilés), $18,825
  • 2020-2022 National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Award (BCS-1939903). Doctoral Dissertation Research: Heritage speakers processing of the Spanish subjunctive during online comprehension (PI, Paola E. Dussias, Co-PI Priscila López-Beltrán), $19,103
  • 2018-2022 National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Award (BCS-1823634). Doctoral Dissertation Research: The Psycholinguistic Status of Lone English-Origin Nouns in Spanish: Integrating Sociolinguistic Approaches (PI, Paola E. Dussias, Co-PI Michael Johns), $17,096
  • 2019-2021 National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Award (BCS-1844188). Doctoral Dissertation Research: Processing of L2-specific multi-word units and the impact on representation and generalization: an ERP study (PI, Paola E. Dussias, Co-PI Manuel Pulido Azpíroz), $16,674

Honors and Awards

  • 2021 Faculty Marshal, Colleen McFadden, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Penn State University
  • 2019 Faculty Scholar Medal, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Penn State University (The Award honors faculty for their scholarly and creative excellence)
  • 2018 The Ray Lombra Award for Distinction in the Social Sciences, College of the Liberal Arts, Penn State University
  • 2013-2018 Member, College of Reviews, National Science Foundation, Perception, Action and Cognition
  • 2009-2013 Standing Member Language and Communication Study Section (LCOM), National Institutes of Health
  • 2013 Liberal Arts Faculty Marshal, Nicole Colón Quintana, Department of Psychology, Penn State University
  • 2012 Faculty Marshal, Lauren Perrotti, Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, Penn State University
  • 2012 Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award, Penn State University
  • 2012 Spirit of Internationalization Award, Penn State University