abstract Viorica Marian

Viorica Marian (Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, USA)

Consequences of bilingualism for spoken language processing and language learning

A bilingual's cognitive architecture is highly interactive and dynamic, both within and across languages. In this talk, I will show that knowing two languages changes spoken language comprehension and yields co-activation of lexical items across both languages. Using eye-tracking and mouse-tracking data, I will suggest that bilinguals effectively recruit both bottom-up and top-down mechanisms to efficiently and seamlessly integrate information across modalities when resolving ambiguity during comprehension. Bilinguals' domain-specific experience with cross-linguistic competition shows a relationship to domain-general executive function, suggesting that bilinguals may be particularly adept at inhibiting irrelevant information. One consequence of this greater inhibitory experience is a bilingual advantage in novel language learning -- compared to monolinguals, bilinguals are better at learning a new language and show less competition from the native language when using a newly-learned language. These differences in language processing, language learning, and inhibitory control suggest fundamental changes to linguistic and cognitive function as a result of bilingualism.