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Age-related effects over bilingual language control and executive control

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The aim of the present study is two-fold. First, we investigate age-related changes to bilingual language control (bLC) mechanisms across lifespan. Second, we explore the relation between bLC mechanisms and those of the domain-general executive (EC) system by looking at age effects on these two systems. To do so, we compare the performances of the three age groups of bilinguals (young, middle-aged and elderly) in a language switching task to those of non-linguistic switching task. We found an age-related change in the non-linguistic switch cost but not in the language switch cost. Moreover, we did not find any correlation between the magnitudes of the switch costs. Taken together these results indicate that bLC is not affected by age as the EC system is, and interestingly, we add new evidence that the bLC mechanisms are not fully subsidiary to those of the domain-general EC system.
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... Furthermore, studies comparing language switching and task switching indicate that there is no straightforward mapping of the processes involved in these two paradigms (e.g., Declerck (2017) found no switch cost difference when directly comparing language-and task-switching, whereas Calabria et al. (2015) found no age effect on task-switch costs but a decrease of language-switch costs with increasing age. So, the former implies an overlap between language switching and task switching, whereas the latter does not (for a recent review on this topic, see Calabria et al., 2019). ...
... Many studies have observed a reversed language dominance pattern (e.g., Christoffels et al., 2007;Costa & Santesteban, 2004;Heikoop et al., 2016;Tarlowski et al., 2012). Yet, a similar number of studies observed either a standard language dominance effect (i.e., better performance in L1 than in L2; e.g., Ma et al., 2016;Wang et al., 2009) or similar L1 and L2 performance (e.g., Calabria et al., 2015;Prior & Gollan, 2011) in mixed-language blocks. So, it is not surprising that a recent meta-analysis (Gade et al., 2021) did not find substantial evidence for a replicable reversed language dominance effect across 73 studies. ...
... Hence, the interplay of inhibition and activation figures much more prominently in the non-linguistic control literature than in the language control literature. While we recognize that some prior studies have shown that there is no one-to-one mapping between bilingual language control and non-linguistic control (e.g., Calabria et al., 2012Calabria et al., , 2015Stasenko et al., 2017;Vaughn et al., 2021), we believe that the analogy of these two domains could be developed further at the theoretical level (for a recent discussion, see Graham & Lavric, 2021). ...
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To achieve fluent language processing as a bilingual, a dominant theoretical framework assumes that the nontarget language is inhibited. This assumption is based on several empirical effects that are typically explained with inhibitory control. In the current article, we discuss four prominent effects linked to bilingual inhibition in language production (i.e., asymmetrical switch costs, n-2 language repetition costs, reversed language dominance, and the blocked language order effect). We argue that these effects require more empirical examination in order to arrive at a firmer basis for the assumption that inhibition plays a major role during bilingual language control. In particular, the empirical replicability of the phenomena themselves needs to be established more firmly, the underlying theoretical assumptions need further examination, and the alternative explanations of the empirical effects need to be scrutinized. In turn, we conclude that inhibitory control may provide a coherent framework for bilingual language production while outlining the challenges that the inhibition account still needs to face. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... Results revealed that participants' efficiency of cognitive shifting and response inhibition was associated with their habitual code-switching frequency. Contrary to previous studies (De Baene, Duyck, Brass & Carreiras, 2015;Declerck, Grainger, Koch & Philipp, 2017;Prior & Gollan, 2011), this study did not find significant associations between bilinguals' language switching and nonverbal task switching performance (consistent with Branzi, Della Rosa, Canini, Costa & Abutalebi, 2016;Calabria, Branzi, Marne, Hernández & Costa, 2015;Gollan, Schotter, Gomez, Murillo & Rayner, 2014;Prior & Gollan, 2013). However, the findings showed the facilitations of participants' intensive practices of code-switching in daily communications on their performance in the cued-language switching task (e.g., Yim & Bialystok, 2012). ...
... switching and cognitive shifting performance. This finding was in line with those studies showing little evidence for an overlap between the mechanisms of cued-language switching and cognitive shifting (e.g., Calabria et al., 2015;Klecha, 2013;Prior & Gollan, 2013). Bilinguals in cued-language switching tasks are guided by language selection cues or pictures, which is a bottom-up cognitive mechanism; however, a top-down cognitive mechanism is assumed to direct bilingual language selection when bilinguals are allowed to switch between languages voluntarily or freely (Declerck & Philipp, 2015). ...
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This study explored how bilingual code-switching habits affect cognitive shifting and inhibition. Habitual code-switching from 31 Mandarin-English bilingual adults were collected through the Language and Social Background Questionnaire (Anderson et al., 2018) and the Bilingual Switching Questionnaire (Rodriguez-Fornells et al., 2012). All participants performed verbal and nonverbal switching tasks, including the verbal fluency task, a bilingual picture-naming and colour-shape switching task. A Go/No-go task was administered to measure the inhibitory control of participants. Frequent bilingual switchers showed less efforts and time costs in switching into naming pictures in Chinese as well as switching across different nonverbal tasks in the colour-shape switching task. Additionally, bilinguals intensively engaged in dense code-switching practices showed advantages in conflicts monitoring and inhibition in the Go/No-go task. The cooperative control of two language in participants’ dense code-switching practices was observed. Overall, the study, observing not only the connections between intensity of single-language context experience and goal maintenance efficiency, partially supported the Adaptive Control Hypothesis (ACH)’ prediction (Green & Abutalebi, 2013). However, it also indicated the facilitations of dense code-switching experience on response inhibition proficiency, which was inconsistent with ACH’s prediction. The practical implications of how different bilingual language experiences affect human cognition are discussed.
... Language control is typically investigated with the language switching task (e.g., Calabria et al., 2015;Ma et al., 2016;Meuter & Allport, 1999; for a review, see Declerck & Philipp, 2015a). In a language switching task, bilinguals generally name digits or pictures in one of two languages based on a visual language cue (e.g., differently coloured rectangles). ...
... Consecutive trials are known to be positively correlated in language tasks (e.g., Baayen & Milin, 2010;Taylor & Lupker, 2001). Hence, repetition trials following switch trials would be influenced by the generally worse performance in switch trials (e.g., Calabria et al., 2015;Ma et al., 2016;Meuter & Allport, 1999; see also the Note. Standard deviations are given in brackets for each language (Dutch and French) and block type (language-repetition and single language sentences). ...
Article
Aims and objectives/purpose/research questions While evidence for proactive language control processes has been found during single word production, very little and conflicting evidence has been observed for such control processes during sentence production. So, the main goal of this study was to investigate whether proactive language control can occur during sentence production. Design/methodology/approach To investigate proactive language control during sentence production, we relied on a description task in single and mixed language blocks. Data and analysis Mixing costs and the reversed language dominance effect of language intrusions and filled pauses were used to examine proactive language control. Findings/conclusions Evidence for proactive language control during sentence production came from the mixing cost effect observed with both language intrusions and filled pauses. Whereas no reversed language dominance effect was observed in mixed language blocks, a significant difference in language pattern was observed between single and mixed language blocks, indicating that proactive language control of the first language might be implemented in mixed language blocks during sentence production. Originality Unlike the vast majority of studies investigating language control, this study relied on sentence production instead of single word production. Moreover, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine filled pauses to gain insight into language control. Significance/implications These data indicate that proactive language control can be implemented during bilingual sentence production.
... However, the extent to which these two control processes interact remains unclear. While some behavioral (e.g., Declerck et al., 2017;Timmer et al., 2018;Timmer et al., 2019), electrophysiological (Declerck et al., 2021;Timmer et al., 2017), and neuroimaging (e.g., De Baene, Duyck, Brass and Carreiras, 2015;Weissberger et al., 2015) studies have demonstrated shared mechanisms of bilingual language control (BLC) and EC, others have argued that there is little overlap between these two domains of control (Branzi et al., 2016a;Calabria et al., 2015;Calabria et al., 2012;Cattaneo et al., 2015;Prior and Gollan, 2013). ...
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The extent to which bilingual language control (BLC) is related to domain-general executive control (EC) remains unclear. The present study applied activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analyses to identify commonalities and distinctions in the brain regions across domains reported in neuroimaging studies. We specifically compare results from two experimental tasks: language switching, a typical measure of BLC, and task switching, an experiment that measures EC. Conjunction analyses showed a domain-general pattern between language switching and task switching, with convergent activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), pre-SMA/dACC complex (pre-supplementary motor area/dorsal anterior cingulate cortex), and left precuneus. Regarding domain-specificity, contrast analyses revealed stronger convergence of activation in the left fusiform gyrus and occipital gyrus in language switching compared to task switching, and conversely, stronger convergence of activation in the left DLPFC in task switching. Overall, these findings illustrate the partially overlapping nature of the neural circuits involved in BLC and EC.
... Behavioral studies have found that bilinguals with a higher level of domain-general cognitive control showed better performance in language control tasks (e.g., Declerck et al., 2017;Linck et al., 2012;Woumans et al., 2015; but see Branzi et al., 2016a;Calabria et al., 2013;Calabria et al., 2011). For example, Li et al. (2021) recruited participants with various inhibitory control (IC) abilities to perform a language switching task, which has been used to examine bilingual language control (e.g., Christoffels et al., 2007;Costa and Santesteban, 2004;Guo et al., 2011;Meuter and Allport, 1999). ...
Article
Domain-general cognitive control is closely related to language control during bilingual language production. Previous neural imaging studies have revealed a highly overlapped but rewired brain network for language control and nonverbal cognitive control. In the present study, we examined this issue from a training perspective. Two groups of participants performed the language switching task at pre-and post-tests during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning. After the pre-test, the experimental group received 8-day training in a non-verbal switching task, while the control group performed an unrelated color judgement task. We found that only the experimental group but not the control group showed decreased strength of connectivity from the ventral lateral frontal cortex to the left caudate nucleus and from the medial surface of the frontal lobe to the left thalamus. These results indicate an increased efficiency after nonverbal training for the frontal cortex to implement domain-general suppression and monitoring in a domain-specific conflict context during bilingual language and lexical selections. This study is the first to investigate the transfer effects of nonverbal cognitive control on the brain network of bilingual language control and shed light on the mechanisms of how domain-general cognitive control may underpin bilingual language control.
... Finally, the electrophysiological data suggested that the adaption of language control to domain-general control occurred in incongruent trials in the single-L2 and mixed contexts, but not in the single-L1 context. This suggests that the adaption of language control was limited to a situation involving similar control mechanisms (see analogous findings in Calabria et al. 2015;Declerck et al. 2017;Dick et al. 2019;Gollan and Goldrick 2016;Lehtonen et al. 2018;Massa et al. 2020;Paap et al. 2015;Prior and Gollan 2013). The alignment of language control and domain-general cognitive control in incongruent trials can be explained by the conflict monitoring account (Botvinick et al. 2001;Botvinick et al. 2004), which holds that when monitoring mechanisms detect a conflict, this interference leads to an enhanced focus on the task-relevant stimulus dimension. ...
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For bilinguals, speaking and listening are assisted by complex control processes including conf lict monitoring and inhibition. However, the extent to which these processes adapt to linguistic and situational needs has been examined separately for language production and comprehension. In the present study, we use a dual-EEG to record the carry-over effects of language control on general cognitive control in three language contexts (single-first language [L1], single-second language [L2], and mixed). Chinese learners of English were placed in dyads in which one participant was asked to name pictures while the other listened. Interleaved after each naming/listening trial were f lanker trials. The results from picture naming and listening revealed higher delta and theta synchronization in the single-L2 and mixed contexts compared with the single-L1 context and higher theta synchronization in the mixed context compared with the single-L2 and single-L1 contexts. The results from the interleaved f lanker trials demonstrated that inhibition was adaptively generalized in the single-L2 and mixed contexts. Altogether, the findings support the natural adaptation of language control to cognitive control and underscore the importance of linguistic context. We argue that these adaptive patterns have the potential to affect corresponding control processes across language and cognitive control tasks.
... Although the issue is not settled, a case can be made that transfer only occurs between tasks that are very similar to each other and that far transfer does not take place (Sala et al., 2018). Several suggestive reports in bilingualism find a dissociation between ability to switch between languages and ability to switch on a cognitive task (e.g., Calabria, Hernández, Branzi & Costa, 2012;Calabria, Branzi, Marne, Hernández & Costa, 2015;Weissberger, Wierenga, Bondi & Gollan, 2012). ...
Book
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The study of bilingualism has charted a dramatically new, important, and exciting course in the 21st C., benefiting from the integration in cognitive science of theoretical linguistics, psycholinguistics, and cognitive psychology (especially work on the higher-level cognitive processes often called "executive function" or "executive control"). Current research, as exemplified in this book, advances the study of the effects of bilingualism on executive function, by identifying many different ways of being bilingual, exploring the multiple facets of executive function, and developing and analyzing tasks that measure executive function. The papers in this volume (21 chapters), by leading researchers in bilingualism and cognition, investigate the mechanisms underlying the effects (or lack thereof) of bilingualism on cognition in children, adults, and the elderly.
... The findings of these behavioral studies are mixed. Some find that performance in the two domains correlates (Declerck, Grainger, Koch & Philipp, 2017;Prior & Gollan, 2011), suggesting overlap; while other evidence suggests that the overlap is only partial (Branzi, Calabria, Boscarino & Costa, 2016;Calabria, Branzi, Marne, Hernández & Costa, 2015;Calabria, Hernández, Branzi & Costa, 2012;Klecha, 2013). Secondly, evidence from neuroimaging research indicates that domain-general EC and language control share neural circuits (e.g., De Baene, Duyck, Brass & Carreiras, 2015;De Bruin, Roelofs, Dijkstra & FitzPatrick, 2014). ...
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Much research has been dedicated to the effects of bilingualism on executive control (EC). For bilinguals with aphasia , the interplay with EC is complex. In this systematic review, we synthesize research on this topic and provide an overview of the current state of the field. First, we examine the evidence for EC deficits in bilingual persons with aphasia (bPWA). We then discuss the domain generality of bilingual language control impairments. Finally, we evaluate the bilingual advantage hypothesis in bPWA. We conclude that (1) EC impairments in bPWA are frequently observed, (2) experimental results on the relationship between linguistic and domain-general control are mixed, (3) bPWA with language control problems in everyday communication have domain-general EC problems, and (4) there are indications for EC advantages in bPWA. We end with directions for experimental work that could provide better insight into the intricate relationship between EC and bilingual aphasia.
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The relationship between bilingual language control and domain-general cognitive control has been a hot topic in the research field of bilingualism. Previous studies mostly examined the correlation between performances of bilinguals in language control tasks and that in domain-general cognitive control tasks and came to the conclusions that they overlap, partially overlap, or are qualitatively different. These contradictory conclusions are possibly due to the neglect of the moderating effect of second language (L2) proficiency, that is, the relationship between bilingual language control and domain-general cognitive control might vary with the L2 proficiency of bilinguals. To examine this hypothesis, we recruited 36 unbalanced Chinese-English bilinguals to perform the Simon task (to assess domain-general cognitive control), Oxford Placement Test (to assess L2 proficiency), and picture naming tasks in single-and dual-language contexts (to evoke local and global language control). We find that Simon scores positively predicted switching costs in bilinguals with low L2 proficiency, but not in bilinguals with high L2 proficiency. Furthermore, Simon scores positively predicted mixing costs in bilinguals with high L2 proficiency, but not in bilinguals with low L2 proficiency. These results verify the moderating effect of L2 proficiency on the relationship between bilingual language control and domain-general cognitive control, that is, bilinguals with more proficient L2 rely on domain-general cognitive control less for local language control and more for global language control. This may imply a shift from local to global for the dependency of bilingual language control on domain-general cognitive control during the L2 development of bilinguals.
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Two seemingly counterintuitive phenomena - asymmetrical language switch costs and the reversed language dominance effect - prove to be particularly controversial in the literature on language control. Asymmetrical language switch costs refer to the larger costs for switching into the dominant language compared to switching into the less dominant language, both relative to staying in either one language. The reversed language dominance effect refers to longer reaction times when in the more dominant of the two languages in situations that require frequent language switching (i.e., mixed-language blocks). The asymmetrical language switch costs are commonly taken as an index for processes of transient, reactive inhibitory language control, whereas the reversed language dominance effect is taken as an index for sustained, proactive inhibitory language control. In the present meta-analysis, we set out to establish the empirical evidence for these two phenomena using a Bayesian linear mixed effects modelling approach. Despite the observation of both phenomena in some studies, our results suggest that overall, there is little evidence for the generality and robustness of these two effects, and this holds true even when conditions - such as language proficiency and preparation time manipulations - were included as moderators of these phenomena. We conclude that asymmetrical switch costs and the reversed language dominance effect are important for theory development, but their utility for theory testing is limited due to their lack of robustness and the absence of confirmed moderatory variables.
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Bilingual advantages in executive control tasks are well documented, but it is not yet clear what degree or type of bilingualism leads to these advantages. To investigate this issue, we compared the performance of two bilingual groups and monolingual speakers in task-switching and language-switching paradigms. Spanish-English bilinguals, who reported switching between languages frequently in daily life, exhibited smaller task-switching costs than monolinguals after controlling for between-group differences in speed and parent education level. By contrast, Mandarin-English bilinguals, who reported switching languages less frequently than Spanish-English bilinguals, did not exhibit a task-switching advantage relative to monolinguals. Comparing the two bilingual groups in language-switching, Spanish-English bilinguals exhibited smaller costs than Mandarin-English bilinguals, even after matching for fluency in the non-dominant language. These results demonstrate an explicit link between language-switching and bilingual advantages in task-switching, while also illustrating some limitations on bilingual advantages. (JINS, 2011, 17, 682-691).
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The current study tested the hypothesis that bilinguals rely on domain-general mechanisms of executive control to achieve language control by asking if linguistic and nonlinguistic switching tasks exhibit similar patterns of aging-related decline. Thirty young and 30 aging bilinguals completed a cued language-switching task and a cued color-shape switching task. Both tasks demonstrated significant aging effects, but aging-related slowing and the aging-related increase in errors were significantly larger on the color-shape than on the language task. In the language task, aging increased language-switching costs in both response times and errors, and language-mixing costs only in response times. In contrast, the color-shape task exhibited an aging-related increase in costs only in mixing errors. Additionally, a subset of the older bilinguals could not do the color-shape task, but were able to do the language task, and exhibited significantly larger language-switching costs than matched controls. These differences, and some subtle similarities, in aging effects observed across tasks imply that mechanisms of nonlinguistic task and language control are only partly shared and demonstrate relatively preserved language control in aging. More broadly, these data suggest that age deficits in switching and mixing costs may depend on task expertise, with mixing deficits emerging for less-practiced tasks and switching deficits for highly practiced, possibly "expert" tasks (i.e., language). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
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This paper aims to foster discussion of the means by which bilinguals control their two language systems. It proposes an inhibitory control (IC) model that embodies the principle that there are multiple levels of control. In the model a language task schema (modulated by a higher level of control) “reactively” inhibits potential competitors for production at the lemma level by virtue of their language tags. The IC model is used to expand the explanation of the effect of category blocking in translation proposed by Kroll and Stewart (1994), and predictions of the model are tested against other data. Its relationship to other proposals and models is considered and future directions proposed.