Bilingual language control in perception versus action: Meg reveals comprehension control mechanisms in anterior cingulate cortex and domain-general control of production in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

Esti Blanco-Elorrieta, Liina Pylkkänen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

For multilingual individuals, adaptive goal-directed behavior as enabled by cognitive control includes the management of two or more languages. This work used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate the degree of neural overlap between language control and domain-general cognitive control both in action and perception. Highly proficient Arabic–English bilingual individuals participated in maximally parallel language-switching tasks in production and comprehension as well as in analogous tasks in which, instead of the used language, the semantic category of the comprehended/produced word changed. Our results indicated a clear dissociation of language control mechanisms in production versus comprehension. Language-switching in production recruited dorsolateral prefrontal regions bilaterally and, importantly, these regions were similarly recruited by category-switching. Conversely, effects of language-switching in comprehension were observed in the anterior cingulate cortex and were not shared by category-switching. These results suggest that bilingual individuals rely on adaptive language control strategies and that the neural involvement during language-switching could be extensively influenced by whether the switch is active (e.g., in production) or passive (e.g., in comprehension). In addition, these results support that humans require high-level cognitive control to switch languages in production, but the comprehension of language switches recruits a distinct neural circuitry. The use of MEG enabled us to obtain the first characterization of the spatiotemporal profile of these effects, establishing that switching processes begin ∼400 ms after stimulus presentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-301
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 13 2016

Keywords

  • Adaptive cognitive control
  • Bilingualism
  • Comprehension
  • Language control
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • Production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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