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Poster C63, Thursday, November 9, 10:00 – 11:15 am, Harborview and Loch Raven Ballrooms

Individual difference in language proficiency shapes the functional plasticity of language control in bilingual word production

Yongben Fu1, Yanjing Wu2, Chunming Lu1, Taomei Guo1;1Beijing Normal University, 2Shenzhen University

The present study aimed to investigate the effect of language switching training on the neural correlates of the reactive control and the proactive control in bilingual word production, as well as the modulation of the L2 proficiency on the training effect. During the pre-test, seventeen unbalanced Chinese-English bilinguals performed the cued picture naming task while being scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Participants then took an 8-day training on language switching and performed the same task again in the post-test. Behavioral results showed that the switch cost was significantly reduced in the post-test compared to the pre-test, but the mixing cost was not significantly different between the test sessions. In order to investigate the training effect in bilinguals with different L2 proficiency, bilinguals were split into two groups based on the scores in the College English Test. For the switch cost, fMRI results showed that the activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus, the left precuneus and the bilateral caudate nuclei were reduced for all bilinguals. Furthermore, the high L2 proficiency group showed decreased activity in the left cerebellum but the low L2 proficiency group showed increased activity in the left cerebellum. For the mixing cost, fMRI results showed that the high L2 proficiency group showed increased activation in the right middle frontal gyrus and the right supramarginal gyrus, while the low proficiency group only showed reduced activation in the right middle frontal gyrus. These results suggest that bilinguals with high L2 proficiency shifted to the proactive control to switch between two languages after the training. In contrast, the bilinguals with low L2 proficiency still relied on the reactive control to perform the task. The present study provided evidence for the plasticity of the bilingual language control, and highlighted the role of the L2 proficiency in the bilingual language control.

Topic Area: Multilingualism

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