Bilingualism and language similarity modify the neural mechanisms of selective attention.
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Olguin, A., Cekic, M., Bekinschtein, T., Katsos, N., & Bozic, M. (2019). Bilingualism and language similarity modify the neural mechanisms of selective attention.. Scientific reports, 9 (1), 8204. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44782-3
Learning and using multiple languages places major demands on our neurocognitive system, which can impact the way the brain processes information. Here we investigated how early bilingualism influences the neural mechanisms of auditory selective attention, and whether this is further affected by the typological similarity between languages. We tested the neural encoding of continuous attended speech in early balanced bilinguals of typologically similar (Dutch-English) and dissimilar languages (Spanish-English) and compared them to results from English monolinguals we reported earlier. In a dichotic listening paradigm, participants attended to a narrative in their native language while ignoring different types of interference in the other ear. The results revealed that bilingualism modulates the neural mechanisms of selective attention even in the absence of consistent behavioural differences between monolinguals and bilinguals. They also suggested that typological similarity between languages helps fine-tune this modulation, reflecting life-long experiences with resolving competition between more or less similar candidates. The effects were consistent over the time-course of the narrative and suggest that learning a second language at an early age triggers neuroplastic adaptation of the attentional processing system.
Brain, Humans, Electroencephalography, Language, Speech, Learning, Speech Perception, Attention, Neuronal Plasticity, Multilingualism, Adult, Female, Male, Young Adult
Cambridge Language Sciences Incubator grant Experimental Psychology Society Small Grant
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44782-3
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/293087
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/