The role of proactive control on subcomponents of language control: Evidence from trilinguals

Huanhuan Liu, Yingying Zhang, Esti Blanco-Elorrieta, Yuying He, Baoguo Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Language control in bilingual individuals has been the source of thorough study in the last decade. However, the characterization of the subcomponents of this cognitive process remains shallow. In this experiment we tested Chinese, English, and Japanese trilinguals who completed a modified language-switching task. Participants named pictures in one of three conditions: Repeat language, Switch-away from a language (target language undetermined) and Switch-to a particular language (target language determined). Brain activity was recorded by electroencephalogram (EEG) and general proactive control ability was measured independently by the AX-Continuous Performance Test (AX-CPT). Switch-to and Switch-away processes elicited distinct neural signatures. Both at the cue and stimulus stage, Switching away elicited more negative activity at an early time window (N2); and less positive activity at the later time window (LPC). Further, at the cue stage this amplitude was negatively correlated with the proactive control index. These results show that the different subcomponents of cued-switching are dissociable and that there is a direct relation between the online signatures elicited by some of these processes and the general proactive control abilities of individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104055
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Electroencephalogram
  • Language control
  • Language switching
  • Multiligualism
  • Proactive control
  • Trilingualism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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