Examining the role of inhibitory control in bilingual language switching


Bilingual language production is widely believed to be a competitive process. Bilinguals may manage this competition by relying on inhibiting one language while speaking in the other. However, it remains unclear if this process relies on domain general inhibitory mechanisms, and, if so, when and where during language production inhibitory control is applied. The current study investigates these issues by experimentally manipulating demand on inhibitory control using a picture word interference task during a language switching paradigm. Switching costs were not exacerbated when inhibitory control was taxed; in fact language switching was less costly during inhibition-demanding trials. These findings do not support the idea that inhibitory control mechanisms underlie language switching and suggest that language switching and the resolution of within-language lexical competition do not share inhibitory resources.

Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2146-2151).