This study addressed how bilingual speakers switch between their first and second language when speaking. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and naming latencies were measured while unbalanced German (L1)-Dutch (L2) speakers performed a picture-naming task. Participants named pictures either in their L1 or in their L2 (blocked language conditions), or participants switched between their first and second language unpredictably (mixed language condition). Furthermore, form similarity between translation equivalents (cognate status) was manipulated. A cognate facilitation effect was found for L1 and L2 indicating phonological activation of the non-response language in blocked and mixed language conditions. The ERP data also revealed small but reliable effects of cognate status. IntroductionBilingual speakers show remarkable flexibility in their ability to control their language output. They can restrict their speech to one language only but also intentionally switch between languages in bilingual settings. The question arises how bilinguals select the intended language and what mechanisms they rely on when switching from one language to the other. Bilinguals vary in proficiency of their second language ranging from very high levels of proficiency (highly proficient bilinguals or balanced bilinguals) to low levels of proficiency (L2 learners and L2 attriters). Even highly proficient bilinguals usually have a dominant and a non-dominant language which is reflected, for instance, in faster picture-naming latencies for their first compared to their second language (e.g., Chen and Leung, 1989;Christoffels et al., 2006;Potter et al., 1984). However, under language switching conditions, this difference in naming latencies between L1 and L2 may disappear or even reverse, with shorter picture-naming latencies for the second than the first language (Costa and Santesteban, 2004;Costa et al., 2006;Meuter and Allport, 1999;Philipp et al., 2006; see also Kroll et al., 2006). Switching between languages may therefore profoundly affect production in the native tongue. In this study, we address intentional language switching and the impact of the bilingual switching context on distinguishing transient and sustained components of language control.
Speakers use external auditory feedback to monitor their own speech. Feedback distortion has been found to increase activity in the superior temporal areas. Using fMRI, the present study investigates the neural correlates of processing verbal feedback without distortion. In a blocked design, the following conditions were presented: (1) overt picture-naming, (2) overt picture-naming while pink noise was presented to mask external feedback, (3) covert picture-naming, (4) listening to the picture names (previously recorded from participants' own voices), and (5) listening to pink noise. The results show that auditory feedback processing involves a network of different areas related to general performance monitoring and speech-motor control. These include the cingulate cortex and the bilateral insula, supplementary motor area, bilateral motor areas, cerebellum, thalamus and basal ganglia. Our findings suggest that the anterior cingulate cortex, which is often implicated in error-processing and conflict-monitoring, is also engaged in ongoing speech monitoring. Furthermore, in the superior temporal gyrus, we found a reduced response to speaking under normal feedback conditions. This finding is interpreted in the framework of a forward model according to which, during speech production, the sensory consequence of the speech-motor act is predicted to attenuate the sensitivity of the auditory cortex. Hum Brain Mapp 28:  2007. V V C 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Bilingualism is commonly assumed to improve creativity but the mechanisms underlying creative acts, and the way these mechanisms are affected by bilingualism, are not very well understood. We hypothesize that learning to master multiple languages drives individuals toward a relatively focused cognitive-control state that exerts strong top-down impact on information processing and creates strong local competition for selection between cognitive codes. Considering the control requirements posed by creativity tasks tapping into convergent and divergent thinking, this predicts that high-proficient bilinguals should outperform low-proficient bilinguals in convergent thinking, while low-proficient bilinguals might be better in divergent thinking. Comparing low- and high-proficient bilinguals on convergent-thinking and divergent-thinking tasks indeed showed a high-proficient bilingual advantage for convergent thinking but a low-proficient bilingual advantage for fluency in divergent thinking. These findings suggest that bilingualism should not be related to “creativity” as a unitary concept but, rather, to the specific processes and mechanisms that underlie creativity.
Speech production long avoided electrophysiological experiments due to the suspicion that potential artifacts caused by muscle activity of overt speech may lead to a bad signal-tonoise ratio in the measurements. Therefore, researchers have sought to assess speech production by using indirect speech production tasks, such as tacit or implicit naming, delayed naming, or meta-linguistic tasks, such as phoneme-monitoring. Covert speech may, however, involve different processes than overt speech production. Recently, overt speech has been investigated using electroencephalography (EEG). As the number of papers published is rising steadily, this clearly indicates the increasing interest and demand for overt speech research within the field of cognitive neuroscience of language. Our main goal here is to review all currently available results of overt speech production involving EEG measurements, such as picture naming, Stroop naming, and reading aloud. We conclude that overt speech production can be successfully studied using electrophysiological measures, for instance, event-related brain potentials (ERPs). We will discuss possible relevant components in the ERP waveform of speech production and aim to address the issue of how to interpret the results of ERP research using overt speech, and whether the ERP components in language production are comparable to results from other fields.
When we speak, we provide ourselves with auditory speech input. Efficient monitoring of speech is often hypothesized to depend on matching the predicted sensory consequences from internal motor commands (forward model) with actual sensory feedback. In this paper we tested the forward model hypothesis using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. We administered an overt picture naming task in which we parametrically reduced the quality of verbal feedback by noise masking. Presentation of the same auditory input in the absence of overt speech served as listening control condition. Our results suggest that a match between predicted and actual sensory feedback results in inhibition of cancellation of auditory activity because speaking with normal unmasked feedback reduced activity in the auditory cortex compared to listening control conditions. Moreover, during self-generated speech, activation in auditory cortex increased as the feedback quality of the self-generated speech decreased. We conclude that during speaking early auditory cortex is involved in matching external signals with an internally generated model or prediction of sensory consequences, the locus of which may reside in auditory or higher order brain areas. Matching at early auditory cortex may provide a very sensitive monitoring mechanism that highlights speech production errors at very early levels of processing and may efficiently determine the self-agency of speech input.
Simultaneous interpreting (SI) is a complex skill, where language comprehension and production take place at the same time in two different languages. In this study we identified some of the basic cognitive skills involved in SI, focusing on the roles of memory and lexical retrieval. We administered a reading span task in two languages and a verbal digit span task in the native language to assess memory capacity, and a picture naming and a word translation task to tap the retrieval time of lexical items in two languages, and we related performance on these four tasks to interpreting skill in untrained bilinguals. The results showed that word translation and picture naming latencies correlate with interpreting performance. Also digit span and reading span were associated with SI performance, only less strongly so. A graphical models analysis indicated that specifically word translation efficiency and working memory form independent subskills of SI performance in untrained bilinguals.
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