Special Issue "Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals"

A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425). This special issue belongs to the section "Cognitive Neuroscience".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Guillaume Thierry
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Guest Editor
School of Psychology, Bangor University, Bangor, United Kingdom
Interests: event-related potentials; language comprehension; syntax; semantics; pragmatics; bilingualism; cross-language interactions; linguistic relativity
Dr. Aina Casaponsa
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom
Interests: linear mixed effect modelling; language learning; reading; bilingualism; masked priming; orthotactics; cross-language interactions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is our pleasure to introduce a Special Issue of Brain Science dedicated to the neuroscientific investigation of the influences of the native language on the second language and, reciprocally, of the second language on the native language in bilinguals.

A vast number of studies have established that mental representations of a bilingual’s different languages interact at various representation levels (e.g., phonological, grammatical, semantic) in both comprehension and production. If the evidence is compelling, the mechanisms underlying such phenomena continue to elude us. How are such representations neuroanatomically organised? They appear to interact dynamically, but how? What are the constraints applying to the interaction between language representations in bilinguals and how do language characteristics shape the mutual influence of languages on one another at various levels of encoding? Also, how much functional autonomy do language representations enjoy from generic cognitive control systems in the human mind? It is clear that language processing is intrinsically bound to conceptual (including nonverbal) processing, attention, emotion, short-term and long-term memory, etc., but are these functional dependencies language-dependent or do they apply to the faculty of language as a whole?

Submissions are invited to this Special Issue of Brain Science that aim to tackle one of the questions above or any related one using cognitive neuroscience methods in a predictive fashion. Contributions reporting results from experiments using methods that have a tangible relation to brain function are particularly encouraged (e.g., electrophysiology, in particular EEG and MEG, fMRI, NIRS, TMS, tDCS), but also studies using methods from behavioural neuroscience such as eye-tracking, electrodermal conductivity, and reaction time modelling, and that investigate how the two languages interact with one another in the bilingual mind, by modulating representations from each of the two languages, creating intermediary, hybrid mental representations, and modulating cognitive processing in real time.

Dr. Guillaume Thierry
Dr. Aina Casaponsa
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Brain Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • native and foreign language
  • language learning
  • bilingualism and multilingualism
  • cross-language interaction
  • phonology and phonetics
  • grammar and syntax
  • semantics
  • pragmatics
  • linguistic relativity
  • electrophysiology
  • magnetoencephalography
  • functional neuroimaging
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • transcranial direct current stimulation
  • near infrared spectroscopy

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Electrophysiological Differentiation of the Effects of Stress and Accent on Lexical Integration in Highly Fluent Bilinguals
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(2), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10020113 - 20 Feb 2020
Abstract
Individuals who acquire a second language (L2) after infancy often retain features of their native language (L1) accent. Cross-language priming studies have shown negative effects of L1 accent on L2 comprehension, but the role of specific speech features, such as lexical stress, is [...] Read more.
Individuals who acquire a second language (L2) after infancy often retain features of their native language (L1) accent. Cross-language priming studies have shown negative effects of L1 accent on L2 comprehension, but the role of specific speech features, such as lexical stress, is mostly unknown. Here, we investigate whether lexical stress and accent differently modulate semantic processing and cross-language lexical activation in Welsh–English bilinguals, given that English and Welsh differ substantially in terms of stress realisation. In an L2 cross-modal priming paradigm, we manipulated the stress pattern and accent of spoken primes, whilst participants made semantic relatedness judgments on visual word targets. Event-related brain potentials revealed a main effect of stress on target integration, such that stimuli with stress patterns compatible with either the L1 or L2 required less processing effort than stimuli with stress incompatible with both Welsh and English. An independent cross-language phonological overlap manipulation revealed an interaction between accent and L1 access. Interestingly, although it increased processing effort, incorrect stress did not significantly modulate semantic priming effects or covert access to L1 phonological representations. Our results are consistent with the concept of language-specific stress templates, and suggest that accent and lexical stress affect speech comprehension mechanisms differentially. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Orthotactics in Language Switching: An ERP Investigation Using Masked Language Priming
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10010022 - 31 Dec 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
It is commonly accepted that bilinguals access lexical representations from their two languages during language comprehension, even when they operate in a single language context. Language detection mechanisms are, thus, hypothesized to operate after the stage of lexical access during visual word recognition. [...] Read more.
It is commonly accepted that bilinguals access lexical representations from their two languages during language comprehension, even when they operate in a single language context. Language detection mechanisms are, thus, hypothesized to operate after the stage of lexical access during visual word recognition. However, recent studies showed reduced cross-language activation when sub-lexical properties of words are specific to one of the bilingual’s two languages, hinting at the fact that language selection may start before the stage of lexical access. Here, we tested highly fluent Spanish–Basque and Spanish–English bilinguals in a masked language priming paradigm in which first language (L1) target words are primed by unconsciously perceived L1 or second language (L2) words. Critically, L2 primes were either orthotactically legal or illegal in L1. Results showed automatic language detection effects only for orthotactically marked L2 primes and within the timeframe of the N250, an index of sub-lexical-to-lexical integration. Marked L2 primes also affected the processing of L1 targets at the stage of conceptual processing, but only in bilinguals whose languages are transparent. We conclude that automatic and unconscious language detection mechanisms can operate at sub-lexical levels of processing. In the absence of sub-lexical language cues, unconsciously perceived primes in the irrelevant language might not automatically trigger post-lexical language identification, thereby resulting in the lack of observable language switching effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
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Open AccessArticle
On the Nature of the Word-Reduction Phenomenon: The Contribution of Bilingualism
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(11), 294; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9110294 - 27 Oct 2019
Abstract
Word reduction refers to how predictable words are shortened in features such as duration, intensity, or pitch. However, its origin is still unclear: Are words reduced because it is the second time that conceptual representations are activated, or because words are articulated twice? [...] Read more.
Word reduction refers to how predictable words are shortened in features such as duration, intensity, or pitch. However, its origin is still unclear: Are words reduced because it is the second time that conceptual representations are activated, or because words are articulated twice? If word reduction is conceptually driven, it would be irrelevant whether the same referent is mentioned twice but using different words. However, if is articulatory, using different words for the same referent could prevent word reduction. In the present work, we use bilingualism to explore the conceptual or articulatory origin of word reduction in language production. Word reduction was compared in two conditions: a non-switch condition, where the two mentions of a referent were uttered in the same language, and a switch condition, where the referent was said in both languages. Dyads of participants completed collaborative maps in which words were uttered twice in Catalan or in Spanish, either repeating or switching the language between mentions. Words were equally reduced in duration, intensity, and pitch in non-switch and in switch conditions. Furthermore, the cognate status of words did not play any role. These findings support the theory that word reduction is conceptually driven. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
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Open AccessArticle
Other Language Proficiency Predicts Unique Variance in Verbal Fluency Not Accounted for Directly by Target Language Proficiency: Cross-Language Interference?
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(8), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9080175 - 24 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The purpose of the study was to investigate cross-language effects in verbal fluency tasks where participants name in English as many exemplars of a target as they can in one minute. A series of multiple regression models were used that employed predictors such [...] Read more.
The purpose of the study was to investigate cross-language effects in verbal fluency tasks where participants name in English as many exemplars of a target as they can in one minute. A series of multiple regression models were used that employed predictors such as self-rated proficiency in English, self-rated proficiency in a language other than English, a picture naming task used to measure productive vocabulary, the percentage of English use, and the frequency of language switching. The main findings showed that self-rated proficiency in the non-English language accounted for unique variance in verbal fluency that was not accounted for directly by self-rated proficiency in English. This outcome is consistent with cross-language interference, but is also consistent with an account that assumes bilingual disadvantages in verbal fluency and picture naming are due to bilinguals having weaker links between semantic concepts and their phonological form. The present study is also discussed in terms of a broader framework that questions whether domain-general inhibition exists and also whether it plays an important role in bilingual language control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
Open AccessArticle
Proactive and Reactive Language Control in the Bilingual Brain
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(7), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9070161 - 10 Jul 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
The current experiment investigated bilingual language control within the dual mechanisms framework. In an fMRI investigation of morphosyntactic rule production, the presence or absence of target language cues was manipulated to investigate the neural mechanisms associated with proactive and reactive global language control [...] Read more.
The current experiment investigated bilingual language control within the dual mechanisms framework. In an fMRI investigation of morphosyntactic rule production, the presence or absence of target language cues was manipulated to investigate the neural mechanisms associated with proactive and reactive global language control mechanisms. Patterns of activation across nine regions of interest (ROIs) were investigated in seventeen early Spanish–English bilingual speakers. A cue by phase interaction in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and pre-supplementary motor area (Pre-SMA) was observed, suggesting that these regions were more active during cue phases, and less active during execution phases, when target language cues were presented. Individual differences analyses showed that variability in proactive control (informative > non-informative cued trial activation during preparation) in the basal ganglia was correlated with proactive control in the left DLPFC, left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), and right precentral ROIs. In contrast, reactive control (non-informative > informative cued activation during execution) in the anterior cingulate was correlated with reactive control in the Pre-SMA and left orbital frontal ROIs. The results suggest that, consistent with the dual mechanisms framework, bilinguals differ in the degree to which they use cues to proactively prepare to use a target language. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
ERP Evidence for Co-Activation of English Words during Recognition of American Sign Language Signs
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(6), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9060148 - 21 Jun 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Event-related potentials (ERPs) were used to investigate co-activation of English words during recognition of American Sign Language (ASL) signs. Deaf and hearing signers viewed pairs of ASL signs and judged their semantic relatedness. Half of the semantically unrelated signs had English translations that [...] Read more.
Event-related potentials (ERPs) were used to investigate co-activation of English words during recognition of American Sign Language (ASL) signs. Deaf and hearing signers viewed pairs of ASL signs and judged their semantic relatedness. Half of the semantically unrelated signs had English translations that shared an orthographic and phonological rime (e.g., BAR–STAR) and half did not (e.g., NURSE–STAR). Classic N400 and behavioral semantic priming effects were observed in both groups. For hearing signers, targets in sign pairs with English rime translations elicited a smaller N400 compared to targets in pairs with unrelated English translations. In contrast, a reversed N400 effect was observed for deaf signers: target signs in English rime translation pairs elicited a larger N400 compared to targets in pairs with unrelated English translations. This reversed effect was overtaken by a later, more typical ERP priming effect for deaf signers who were aware of the manipulation. These findings provide evidence that implicit language co-activation in bimodal bilinguals is bidirectional. However, the distinct pattern of effects in deaf and hearing signers suggests that it may be modulated by differences in language proficiency and dominance as well as by asymmetric reliance on orthographic versus phonological representations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
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Open AccessArticle
Mechanisms for Auditory Perception: A Neurocognitive Study of Second Language Learning of Mandarin Chinese
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(6), 139; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9060139 - 17 Jun 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Speech perception is an important early skill for language learning. This study uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the relationship between auditory perception abilities and second language (L2) vocabulary learning in an effort to explore behavior-brain correlations. Twenty-one English monolinguals learned [...] Read more.
Speech perception is an important early skill for language learning. This study uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the relationship between auditory perception abilities and second language (L2) vocabulary learning in an effort to explore behavior-brain correlations. Twenty-one English monolinguals learned 48 auditory Chinese pseudowords over six weeks. Their pre-training abilities in non-linguistic pitch and linguistic tone perception significantly and positively predicted their novel word-learning performance, which correlated with their brain response patterns in the left Heschl’s gyrus. Analyses of regions of interest (ROIs) showed coactivation of the frontal and temporal regions during novel lexical retrieval, and the non-linguistic pitch perception ability modulated brain activations in these regions. Effective connectivity analyses further indicated a collaboration of a ventral stream for speech perception and a dorsal stream for sensory-motor mapping in the L2 network. The ventral stream, compared with the dorsal stream, played a more dominant role in auditory word learning as the L2 proficiency increased. Better pitch and tone perception abilities strengthened the ventral pathways and decreased the reliance on frontal regions. These findings are discussed in light of current models of speech processing and L2 learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
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Open AccessArticle
Testing for Nonselective Bilingual Lexical Access Using L1 Attrited Bilinguals
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(6), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9060126 - 01 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Research in the past few decades generally supported a nonselective view of bilingual lexical access, where a bilingual’s two languages are both active during monolingual processing. However, recent work by Costa et al. (2017) brought this into question by reinterpreting evidence for nonselectivity [...] Read more.
Research in the past few decades generally supported a nonselective view of bilingual lexical access, where a bilingual’s two languages are both active during monolingual processing. However, recent work by Costa et al. (2017) brought this into question by reinterpreting evidence for nonselectivity in a selective manner. We manipulated the factor of first language (L1) attrition in an event-related potential (ERP) experiment to disentangle Costa and colleagues’ selective processing proposal versus the traditional nonselective processing view of bilingual lexical access. Spanish–English bilinguals demonstrated an N400 effect of L1 attrition during implicit L1 processing in a second language (L2) semantic judgment task, indicating the contribution of variable L1 lexical access during L2 processing. These results are incompatible with Costa and colleagues’ selective model, adding to the literature supporting a nonselective view of bilingual lexical access. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
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Open AccessArticle
The Neural Correlates of Conflict Detection and Resolution During Multiword Lexical Selection: Evidence from Bilinguals and Monolinguals
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(5), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9050110 - 14 May 2019
Abstract
Previous studies have identified the Event Related Potential (ERP) components of conflict detection and resolution mechanisms in tasks requiring lexical selection at the individual word level. We investigated the brain potentials associated with these mechanisms in a lexical selection task based on multiword [...] Read more.
Previous studies have identified the Event Related Potential (ERP) components of conflict detection and resolution mechanisms in tasks requiring lexical selection at the individual word level. We investigated the brain potentials associated with these mechanisms in a lexical selection task based on multiword units made up of verb–noun combinations (e.g., eat breakfast, skip school). Native and non-native English speakers were asked to select a familiarized target verb–noun sequence (eat breakfast) between two choices. Trials were low-conflict, with only one plausible candidate (e.g., eat – shoot – breakfast) or high-conflict, with two plausible verbs (e.g., eat – skip – breakfast). Following the presentation of the noun, native English speakers showed a biphasic process of selection, with a conflict-detection centro-parietal negativity between 500 and 600 ms (Ninc), followed by a right frontal effect (RFE) between 600 and 800 ms preceding responses. Late Spanish–English bilinguals showed a similar but more sustained and more widespread effect. Additionally, brain activity was only significantly correlated with performance in native speakers. Results suggest largely similar basic mechanisms, but also that different resources and strategies are engaged by non-native speakers when resolving conflict in the weaker language, with a greater focus on individual words than on multiword units. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
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Open AccessArticle
Cognitive Control Facilitates Attentional Disengagement during Second Language Comprehension
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(5), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9050095 - 27 Apr 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
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Open AccessArticle
Bilingual and Monolingual First Language Acquisition Experience Differentially Shapes Children’s Property Term Learning: Evidence from Behavioral and Neurophysiological Measures
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9020040 - 12 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Studies of novel noun learning show bilingual children rely less on the Mutual Exclusivity Constraint (MEC) for word learning than monolinguals. Shifting the focus to learning novel property terms (adjectives), the present study compared 3.5- and five-year-old bilingual and monolingual preschoolers’ adherence to [...] Read more.
Studies of novel noun learning show bilingual children rely less on the Mutual Exclusivity Constraint (MEC) for word learning than monolinguals. Shifting the focus to learning novel property terms (adjectives), the present study compared 3.5- and five-year-old bilingual and monolingual preschoolers’ adherence to the MEC. We found no bilingual-monolingual differences on a behavioral forced-choice task for the 3.5-year-olds, but five-year-old monolinguals adhered more to the MEC than bilinguals did. Older bilinguals adhered less to the MEC than younger ones, while there was no difference in MEC adherence between the younger and older monolinguals. In the 5-year-olds, we additionally acquired neurophysiological data using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to allow for a first explorative look at potential neuronal underpinnings. The data show that, compared to bilinguals, monolinguals reveal higher activation over three brain regions (right frontal, left temporo-parietal, and left prefrontal) that may be involved in exploiting the MEC, building on conflict detection, inhibition, solution of a disjunction, and working memory processes. Taken together, our behavioral and neurophysiological findings reveal different paths towards novel property term learning depending on children’s language acquisition context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Neuroscience of Cross-Language Interaction in Bilinguals)
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