The present study investigated the influence of Dutch-German cognates resp. orthographic neighbors on controlled language processing (i.e., response inhibition). Two monolingual Stroop tasks (Dutch and German) were performed by Dutch-speaking participants who could and could not speak German, and by French-speaking participants who could speak German. The question is whether or not cognate language processing affects cognitive control, resulting in a possible bilingual advantage. In the German Stroop task, we found additional advantages in congruent, as well as incongruent, trials for the two Dutch-speaking groups, which postulates the existence of a cognate resp. orthographic neighbor facilitation effect, even when participants only know one of the two cognate languages. The findings are discussed in relation to two possible factors that can modulate the effect of bilingualism on cognitive control: cognateness and orthographic neighborhood. The results suggest the existence of a notification mechanism in the bilingual brain. This mechanism would notify the bilingual brain when dealing with cognates and orthographic neighbors.
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