John Libbey Eurotext

Revue de neuropsychologie


Bilingualism and executive control: neurofunctional correlates in ERPs and fMRI Volume 8, issue 2, Avril-Mai-Juin 2016


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1 Université Toulouse 2-Jean Jaurès,
Octogone-Lordat (EA 4156),
Unité de recherche interdisciplinaire,
5, allées Antonio-Machado,
31058 Toulouse cedex, France
2 Université Toulouse 2-Jean Jaurès,
Laboratoire Travail et cognition,
Unité de recherche Cognition, langue, langage et ergonomie (UMR 5263),
5, allées Antonio-Machado,
31058 Toulouse cedex, France
3 Institut des Sciences du cerveau, du comportement et de la cognition de Toulouse (ISC3T), Toulouse, France
* Correspondance

During oral interaction, bilingual speakers can maintain the language which they intend to use or switch to a second one if required by the situation. These actions are made possible with the support of a control mechanism, which enables the selection of a target language while inhibiting the non target language. Behavioural research over the past fifteen years has yielded significant evidence that this mechanism is not language-specific but operated by executive control.

Functional imaging is a valuable research method to help understanding this issue. In this review, we discuss the main studies having collected ERPs and fMRI data during a bilingual switch task. The results obtained by these two techniques are compared to better understand the nature of the language control (with respect to inhibition). Results show many similarities with studies using switch paradigms in non-linguistic tasks. Observing modulations of the N200 component combined with the role of the anterior cingular cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex corroborate the hypothesis that the executive system takes a major part in bilingual control.