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Cognitive Control Facilitates Attentional Disengagement during Second Language Comprehension

Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
Department of Comparative Literature and Languages, University of California, Riverside, 2401 HMNSS Building, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(5), 95;
Received: 1 April 2019 / Revised: 23 April 2019 / Accepted: 25 April 2019 / Published: 27 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
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Bilinguals learn to resolve conflict between their two languages and that skill has been hypothesized to create long-term adaptive changes in cognitive functioning. Yet, little is known about how bilinguals recruit cognitive control to enable efficient use of one of their languages, especially in the less skilled and more effortful second language (L2). Here we examined how real-time cognitive control engagement influences L2 sentence comprehension (i.e., conflict adaptation). We tested a group of English monolinguals and a group of L2 English speakers using a recently-developed cross-task adaptation paradigm. Stroop sequences were pseudo-randomly interleaved with a visual-world paradigm in which participants were asked to carry out spoken instructions that were either syntactically ambiguous or unambiguous. Consistent with previous research, eye-movement results showed that Stroop-related conflict improved the ability to engage correct-goal interpretations, and disengage incorrect-goal interpretations, during ambiguous instructions. Such cognitive-to-language modulations were similar in both groups, but only in the engagement piece. In the disengagement portion, the modulation emerged earlier in bilinguals than in monolinguals, suggesting group differences in attentional disengagement following cognitive control recruitment. Additionally, incorrect-goal eye-movements were modulated by individual differences in working memory, although differently for each group, suggesting an involvement of both language-specific and domain-general resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: bilingualism; second language processing; sentence comprehension; cognitive control; attention; eye-tracking bilingualism; second language processing; sentence comprehension; cognitive control; attention; eye-tracking

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Navarro-Torres, C.A.; Garcia, D.L.; Chidambaram, V.; Kroll, J.F. Cognitive Control Facilitates Attentional Disengagement during Second Language Comprehension. Brain Sci. 2019, 9, 95.

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