Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Think twice, speak once: Bilinguals process both languages simultaneously

Date:
September 10, 2013
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Bilingual speakers can switch languages seamlessly, likely developing a higher level of mental flexibility than monolinguals, according linguistic researchers.

Bilingual speakers can switch languages seamlessly, likely developing a higher level of mental flexibility than monolinguals, according to Penn State linguistic researchers.

Related Articles


"In the past, bilinguals were looked down upon," said Judith F. Kroll, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Linguistics and Women's Studies. "Not only is bilingualism not bad for you, it may be really good. When you're switching languages all the time it strengthens your mental muscle and your executive function becomes enhanced."

Fluent bilinguals seem to have both languages active at all times, whether both languages are consciously being used or not, the researchers report in a recent issue of Frontiers in Psychology. Both languages are active whether either was used only seconds earlier or several days earlier.

Bilinguals rarely say a word in the unintended language, which suggests that they have the ability to control the parallel activity of both languages and ultimately select the intended language without needing to consciously think about it.

The researchers conducted two separate but related experiments. In the first, 27 Spanish-English bilinguals read 512 sentences, written in either Spanish or English -- alternating language every two sentences. Participants read the sentences silently until they came across a word displayed in red, at which point they were instructed to read the red word out loud, as quickly and accurately as possible. About half of the red words were cognates -- words that look and sound similar and have the same meaning in both languages.

"Cognate words were processed more quickly than control words," said Jason W. Gullifer, a graduate student in psychology, suggesting that both languages are active at the same time.

Participants in the second experiment performed the same tasks as those in the first experiment, but this time were presented one language at a time. The second experiment's results were similar to the first, suggesting that context does not influence word recognition.

"The context of the experiment didn't seem to matter," said Gullifer. "If you look at bilinguals there seems to be some kind of mechanistic control."

Paola E. Dussias, professor of Spanish and head of the Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, department also collaborated on this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paola E. Dussias, Judith F. Kroll, Jason W. Gullifer. When Language Switching has No Apparent Cost: Lexical Access in Sentence Context. Frontiers in Psychology, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00278

Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Think twice, speak once: Bilinguals process both languages simultaneously." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910121521.htm>.
Penn State. (2013, September 10). Think twice, speak once: Bilinguals process both languages simultaneously. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910121521.htm
Penn State. "Think twice, speak once: Bilinguals process both languages simultaneously." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910121521.htm (accessed April 19, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Family members are prerecording messages as part of a unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home in New York. The videos are trying to help victims of Alzheimer&apos;s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2015) Each week, millions of Americans take acetaminophen to dull minor aches and pains. Now researchers say it might blunt life&apos;s highs and lows, too. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins