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This article is part of the Research Topic The neurocognition of language production

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 27 May 2011 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00114

Event-related brain potential investigation of preparation for speech production in late bilinguals

  • 1 School of Psychology, Bangor University, Bangor, UK
  • 2 Economic and Social Research Council Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice, Bangor University, Bangor, UK

It has been debated how bilinguals select the intended language and prevent interference from the unintended language when speaking. Here, we studied the nature of the mental representations accessed by late fluent bilinguals during a rhyming judgment task relying on covert speech production. We recorded event-related brain potentials in Chinese–English bilinguals and monolingual speakers of English while they indicated whether the names of pictures presented on a screen rhymed. Whether bilingual participants focussed on rhyming selectively in English or Chinese, we found a significant priming effect of language-specific sound repetition. Surprisingly, however, sound repetitions in Chinese elicited significant priming effects even when the rhyming task was performed in English. This cross-language priming effect was delayed by ∼200 ms as compared to the within-language effect and was asymmetric, since there was no priming effect of sound repetitions in English when participants were asked to make rhyming judgments in Chinese. These results demonstrate that second language production hinders, but does not seal off, activation of the first language, whereas native language production appears immune to competition from the second language.

Keywords: ERP, bilingualism, language production, cognitive control, inhibition

Citation: Wu YJ and Thierry G (2011) Event-related brain potential investigation of preparation for speech production in late bilinguals. Front. Psychology 2:114. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00114

Received: 25 February 2011; Paper pending published: 11 March 2011;
Accepted: 15 May 2011; Published online: 27 May 2011.

Edited by:

Kristof Strijkers, University of Barcelona, Spain

Reviewed by:

Cristina Baus, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
Daan Hermans, Royal Dutch Kentalis, Netherlands

Copyright: © 2011 Wu and Thierry. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Guillaume Thierry, School of Psychology, Adeilad Brigantia, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2AS, UK. e-mail: g.thierry@bangor.ac.uk