Test differences in accessing bilingual memory

Aydin Y. Durgunoǧlu, Henry L. Roediger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Theories of how bilinguals represent information have been conceived in terms of either a single, language-independent code or dual, language-specific codes. In this study, Spanish-English bilinguals exhibited both a language-independent and a language-specific pattern of results under identical study conditions depending on the retrieval demands of a task. With the data-driven task of word fragment completion, language specificity was observed. With the conceptually driven task of free recall, language-independence was generally observed. Results from a yes/no test of recognition memory were interpreted as reflecting both types of processing. The issue of whether bilinguals store information in one or two codes seems indeterminable, because the varying retrieval demands of different tasks produce different patterns of results and lead to opposite conclusions. Rather, a transfer appropriate processing framework-in which performance on retention tests is shown to benefit to the extent to which procedures required on the test recapitulate those employed during encoding-provides a more fruitful analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-391
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1987
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Grant ROl HD-15054 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. We thank J. Neely, P. Schwanenflugel, E. Tulving, and M. Weldon for their helpful comments, Micheal Ness for his assistance in testing subjects, and Rocio Martinez for her help in recruiting subjects. The first author is now at the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois, Champaign, IL 61820. Requests for reprints may be sent to Henry L. Roediger III, Department of Psychology, Purdue University. West Lafayette, IN 47907.


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