The purpose of this study was to examine the cognitive control mechanisms in adult English speaking monolinguals compared to early sequential Spanish-English bilinguals during the initial stages of novel word learning. Functional magnetic resonance imaging during a lexico-semantic task after only 2. h of exposure to novel German vocabulary flashcards showed that monolinguals activated a broader set of cortical control regions associated with higher-level cognitive processes, including the supplementary motor area (SMA), anterior cingulate (ACC), and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), as well as the caudate, implicated in cognitive control of language. However, bilinguals recruited a more localized subcortical network that included the putamen, associated more with motor control of language. These results suggest that experience managing multiple languages may differentiate the learning strategy and subsequent neural mechanisms of cognitive control used by bilinguals compared to monolinguals in the early stages of novel word learning.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported under the grant Neural correlates of lexical processing in child L2 learners from NIH/NICHD 1R21HD059103 . Additional thanks are given to the Baylor Human Neuroimaging Laboratory for the use of scanning equipment, to Kenia Velasquez for recruitment and data collection, and to Pilar Archila-Suerte for assisting in the proofreading and editing process.
- Cognitive control
- Word learning