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Language Control in Bilinguals

Language control in bilinguals: Purpose to speak vs. execution of talk.


At least 50% of the world's society is bilingual (Baker, 2011), and having proper terms control to easily swap between two dialects is imperative. It really is known that bilinguals have two different stores of knowledge for words, one in each vocabulary, usually known as a mental lexicon. Lexical concepts are necessary expressing ideas in a particular language, and sooner or later, there has to be cognitive competition between your two languages in order to pick the right terms. A meta-analysis of earlier studies have discovered an isolated control network in charge of selecting one words over another, which contains the pre-supplementary motor area/anterior cingulate gyrus cortex, prefrontal cortex, and left caudate nucleus (Abutalebi, Della Rosa, Ding, Weekes, Costa, & Green, 2013). Speech creation requires two mental process before you can articulate in the correct terms. First, in the preverbal level, one must conceptualize, during which you are thinking of something to state. Next, one must communicate the expected idea by using linguistic tools, and hence, formulate in the verbal stage. However, it's important to note a major difference in cognitive control is between the objective to speak, and also speaking. Prior studies have never been able to split up the brain areas involved in processing the intent to use the terms during the preverbal stage and retrieving the correct lexical information for speech development in the verbal stage. An explicit separation of both processes would show where stage the competition for choosing the 'right' terminology for creation occurs, of course, if cognitive processes are different at these periods.

This fMRI review investigates the way the bilingual brain uses cognitive control techniques to encodes and act upon the purpose to speak one of both languages. The analysis uses a task-cueing paradigm to provide a parting between neural activity associated with forming the purpose to speak from the neural activity of retrieving the precise lexical items/concepts in the decided on language. The analysis predicts getting the intention to speak a specific language may reduce the unintended vocabulary, and thus show systematic neural activation differences in brain areas previously during cognitive control, during the intention to speak stage. If competition between dialects persists until a later time of cognitive control, during articulation/ actually speaking, there must be systematic neural activation dissimilarities in brain areas during this time, not during the intention phase.


For this analysis, twenty-one topics were recruited, twelve woman and nine male. Things were bilinguals that reported German as their first words and British as their second dialect, without learning or vocabulary impairment. Language proficiency was assessed with a German version of the Words Experience and Proficiency Questionnaire and a picture-naming activity, which tested how extensive their vocabulary was.

The stimuli for this picture-naming task were 120 dark and white line drawings of things retrieved from the International Picture Naming Project, and were available in German and British. The experiment was divided into six runs with forty trials in each run, for a complete of 200 trials. Each trial started with a fixation combination for 0. 5s, followed by an abstract visual cue telling the subject which language to work with for naming the approaching picture, which lasted 1s. Then another fixation cross was shown for 8s as a delay phase, during which is assumed to be the vocabulary intention phase, in a way that subjects can put together to react in the target language that was cued to them. Finally, a lines drawing was provided for 3s, at which time topics were to name the pulling, and the verbal response was saved by an MRI suitable mike, alongside an fMRI (Fig. 1). This might allow the experimenters to get the effect time of each word and word agreement (the proportion of subjects utilizing a specific word to mention an subject).

Figure 1: Timeline of on trial of the experimental job

Between each trial, there was a 1s-7s hold off. Furthermore, the sequence of dialects in the trails was pseudo-randomized so that the same dialect cue did not seem more than three times in a row. Tests with the same cued vocabulary consecutively were called "stay trials" and a trial where in fact the cued terminology was different from the previous trial was called a "change trial". It's important to note things experienced behavioral training preceding to beginning the actual experiment to ensure proper reaction to the cued language, and following a specific time casings designated to each portion of the stimuli. Each subject trained until these were able to correct identify the dialect associated with each cue at least eight times in a row.


This fMRI research investigated the way the bilingual brain uses cognitive control procedures to encodes and action upon the objective to speak one of the two languages, specifically considering two different parts of speech creation: the goal to speak and the energetic terminology execution (actually speaking). The results revealed differences in brain area activation during those phases, thus indicating that two different dialect systems enable vocabulary selection during bilingual dialect production. This further instructs us that the activated system during terminology intention prepares the individual to speak a particular language, but will not count on cognitive words control. However, the turned on system during language execution does indeed rely on cognitive vocabulary control, which is this technique that is likely in charge of resolving your competition conflict between the two languages. Through the language intention period, the bilateral precuneus, right superior lateral parietal lobe, and remaining middle temporal gyrus were more active in switch tests, no matter German or English being spoken. It is because during these tests, the subject has to reselect the terminology that must be produced (heading to English in trial #1 to German in trial #2). As a result of having to transition between languages, the assumption is that would require more cognitive control than using the same words consecutively (but not more than 3 times consecutively in this review), and hence, the brain must be set up in order to get this cognitive transition occur. This contributes to our knowledge of bilingualism, and how bilinguals, as myself, are able to switch in one language to some other. When looking at response times, however, because of the 8s delay period between trials, the effect of switching languages on reaction times probably didn't have an effect, taking into consideration the 8s delay allowed the subject to get ready prior to speaking. The results from the turn and stay studies also did not show any brain region which revealed a significant connections between transition and language, meaning that the effect of turning from language to some other is similar over the two dialects.

The change and stay tests also support the idea that specific cognitive control operations regulate the use of one language over another. During the switch trials, there was an impact during language purpose and words execution, however much less pronounced as the words intention period. These results support prior studies that show brain activation been associated with cognitive control during bilingual words development, specifically in the anterior cingulate and the caudate (Abutalebi et al. , 2013), that have been more vigorous when the themes spoke in British alternatively than German. This possibly shows that speaking in another language, the one that is not the principal learned terms requires more cognitive control. An interesting finding along with this study is the fact that since the German audio speakers L1 is German, there is a specific patter of brain activity that is not linked to cognitive dialect control, but instead, a "default method network" that is adversely correlated with brain area activity for professional function and attention. This means that this default network may not have all the neural activation since it is the first terminology, and thus will not require the maximum amount of cognitive processing as an L2 would. More studies need to be done to help expand investigate this trend.

In summary, the findings of the research show that cognitive control is more visible during language execution compared to language intention, and therefore the control during real speech development and articulation is specific to the terms spoken. The sooner prediction of suppression of the unintended vocabulary during the intention to speak works with with the results, as the mind maintains the intention to use one terminology without pre-activating other regions. This review has made a helpful contribution to the analysis of standard bilingual processing, cognitive control and attention. As mentioned previously, at least 50% of the world's population is bilingual, and thus this study focused on bilinguals. However, it may be interesting to help expand study those that can speak more than two languages, and see how fMRI results compare to bilinguals.


Abutalebi, J. , Della Rosa, P. A. , Ding, G. , Weekes, B. , Costa, A. , & Green, D. W. (2013).

Language proficiency modulates the proposal of cognitive control areas in multilinguals. Cortex, 49(3), 905-911.

Reverberi, C. , Kuhlen, A. , Abutalebi, J. , Greulich, S. R. , Costa, A. , Shima Seyed-Allaei,

S. , Haynes, J. D. 2015). Vocabulary control in bilinguals: Objective to speak vs. execution of speech. Brain and Terms, 144, 1-9

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