Language Control in Bilinguals

Updated: January 20, 2018

Language Control in Bilinguals

Language control in bilinguals: Objective to speak vs. execution of speech.


At least 50% of the world’s inhabitants is bilingual (Baker, 2011), and having proper terminology control to easily change between two languages is imperative. It really is understood that bilinguals own two different stores of knowledge for phrases, one in each terminology, otherwise known as a mental lexicon. Lexical concepts are necessary expressing ideas in a particular language, and sooner or later, there must be cognitive competition between your two languages so as to pick the correct dialect. A meta-analysis of previous studies have determined an isolated control network accountable for selecting one language over another, which consists of the pre-supplementary motor region/anterior cingulate gyrus cortex, prefrontal cortex, and kept caudate nucleus (Abutalebi, Della Rosa, Ding, Weekes, Costa, & Green, 2013). Speech creation requires two mental procedure before one can articulate in the correct language. Initially, in the preverbal level, one must conceptualize, during which you are thinking of something to state. Next, one must express the intended idea through the use of linguistic tools, and hence, formulate in the verbal level. However, it is important to note a significant difference in cognitive control is between your intention to speak, and actually speaking. Previous studies have not had the opportunity to separate the brain regions involved in digesting the intent to use the language through the preverbal level and retrieving the correct lexical info for speech development in the verbal level. An explicit separation of both processes would show during which stage your competition for choosing the ‘correct’ language for production occurs, and if cognitive procedures will vary at these stages.

This fMRI study investigates the way the bilingual brain uses cognitive control processes to encodes and take action upon the intention to speak one of the two languages. The analysis runs on the task-cueing paradigm to present jj thomson atom a separation between neural activity connected with forming the purpose to speak from the neural activity of retrieving the precise lexical items/principles in the selected dialect. The study predicts getting the intention to speak a specific language may suppress the unintended language, and thus show systematic neural activation distinctions in brain areas previously during cognitive control, through the intent to speak level. If competition between languages remains until a late time of cognitive control, during articulation/ actually speaking, there should be systematic neural activation differences in brain areas during this time, not through the intention phase.


For this study, twenty-one topics were recruited, twelve feminine and nine male. Subjects were bilinguals that reported German as their first of all words and English as their second terminology, without learning or dialect impairment. Terminology proficiency was assessed by a German type of the Language Encounter and Proficiency Questionnaire and a picture-naming activity, which tested how intensive their vocabulary was.

The stimuli for this picture-naming task were 120 black and white line drawings of items retrieved from the International Photo Naming Job, and were obtainable in German and English. The experiment was split into six works with forty trials in each run, for a total of 200 trials. Each trial commenced with a fixation cross for 0.5s, followed by an abstract visual cue showing the subject which words to employ for naming the approaching picture, which lasted 1s. In that case another fixation cross was shown for 8s as a delay phase, during which is assumed to become the dialect intention phase, in a way that topics can prepare to react in the target language which was cued to them. Finally, a range drawing was offered for 3s, of which time subjects were to mention the drawing, and the verbal response was documented by an MRI compatible microphone, alongside an fMRI (Fig. 1). This would permit the experimenters to retrieve the response time of every word and word contract (the proportion of subjects utilizing a specific word to mention an object).

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Figure 1: Timeline of on trial of the experimental job

Between each trial, there is a 1s-7s delay. Furthermore, the sequence of languages in the trails was pseudo-randomized so that the same terminology cue did not appear more than three times in a row. Trials with the same cued language consecutively were known as “stay trials” and a trial where in fact the cued language was not the same as the prior trial was known as a “switch trial”. It is important to note subjects had behavioral training prior to beginning you see, the experiment to ensure proper response to the cued dialect, and following a specific time frames assigned to each portion of the stimuli. Each subject matter trained until these were in a position to correct identify the vocabulary connected with each cue at least eight occasions in a row.


This fMRI study investigated how the bilingual human brain uses cognitive control functions to encodes and action upon the intention to speak one of the two languages, particularly looking at two various areas of speech production: the intention to speak and the dynamic language execution (actually speaking). The effects showed dissimilarities in brain spot activation during those phases, consequently indicating that two unique language systems enable language collection during bilingual language development. This further more tells us that the activated system during language objective prepares the given individual to speak a particular language, but does not count on cognitive language control. On the other hand, the activated system during words execution does depend on cognitive language control, and it is this system that is likely responsible for resolving your competition conflict between your two languages. During the language intention stage, the bilateral precuneus, most suitable top-notch lateral parietal lobe, and left middle temporal gyrus had been more active in switch trials, irrespective of German or English staying spoken. Simply because during these trials, the subject must reselect the dialect that must be produced (going to English in trial #1 to German in trial #2). Because of having to switch between languages, the assumption is that this would require additional cognitive control than using the same dialect consecutively (however, not more than 3 times consecutively in this analysis), and therefore, the brain must be set up in order to have this cognitive change occur. This plays a part in our understanding of bilingualism, and how bilinguals, as myself, can switch in one language to another. When looking at reaction times, however, because of the 8s delay period between trials, the result of switching languages on response times probably didn’t have an effect, considering the 8s delay allowed the subject to prepare just before speaking. The results from the change and stay trials as well did not show any brain region which showed a substantial interaction between move and language, meaning that the result of switching from language to another is similar over the two languages.

The change and stay trials likewise support the theory that specific cognitive control processes regulate the utilization of one terminology over another. Through the switch trials, there was an effect during language intention and language execution, even so not as pronounced as the terminology intention phase. These outcomes support previous studies that show mind activation been associated with cognitive control during bilingual words production, particularly in the anterior cingulate and the caudate (Abutalebi et al., 2013), that have been more active when the topics spoke in English instead of German. This possibly suggests that speaking in a second language, the the one that is not the principal learned language requires more cognitive control. An interesting finding additionally study is that because the German loudspeakers L1 is German, there is a specific patter of human brain activity that is not associated with derivative of sec x cognitive language control, but instead, a “default function network” that’s negatively correlated with mind place activity for executive function and interest. This signifies that this default network may not have as very much neural activation since it may be the first language, and so does not require as very much cognitive processing as an L2 would. More analyses ought to be done to further investigate this phenomenon.

In conclusion, the findings of this study exhibit that cognitive control is certainly more prominent during terminology execution in comparison to language intention, and therefore the control during actual speech development and articulation is particular to the terminology spoken. The earlier prediction of suppression of the unintended terminology through the intent to speak works with with the results, as the brain maintains the intention to use one language without pre-activating other regions. This review has made a beneficial contribution to the analysis of basic bilingual processing, cognitive control and attention. As explained previously, at least 50% of the world’s population is bilingual, and therefore this study focused on bilinguals. However, it may be interesting to help expand study those who can speak a lot more than two languages, and see how fMRI outcomes compare to bilinguals.


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

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

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

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

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