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1.  When bilinguals choose a single word to speak: Electrophysiological evidence for inhibition of the native language 
Journal of memory and language  2012;67(1):10.1016/j.jml.2012.05.001.
Behavioral and event-related potential (ERP) measures are reported for a study in which relatively proficient Chinese-English bilinguals named identical pictures in each of their two languages. Production occurred only in Chinese (the first language, L1) or only in English (the second language, L2) in a given block with the order counterbalanced across participants. The repetition of pictures across blocks was expected to produce facilitation in the form of faster responses and more positive ERPs. However, we hypothesized that if both languages are activated when naming one language alone, there might be evidence of inhibition of the stronger L1 to enable naming in the weaker L2. Behavioral data revealed the dominance of Chinese relative to English, with overall faster and more accurate naming performance in L1 than L2. However, reaction times for naming in L1 after naming in L2 showed no repetition advantage and the ERP data showed greater negativity when pictures were named in L1 following L2. This greater negativity for repeated items suggests the presence of inhibition rather than facilitation alone. Critically, the asymmetric negativity associated with the L1 when it followed the L2 endured beyond the immediate switch of language, implying long-lasting inhibition of the L1. In contrast, when L2 naming followed L1, both behavioral and ERP evidence produced a facilitatory pattern, consistent with repetition priming. Taken together, the results support a model of bilingual lexical production in which candidates in both languages compete for selection, with inhibition of the more dominant L1 when planning speech in the less dominant L2. We discuss the implications for modeling the scope and time course of inhibitory processes.
doi:10.1016/j.jml.2012.05.001
PMCID: PMC3820915  PMID: 24222718
lexical selection; language production; inhibition; bilingualism
2.  The processing and comprehension of wh-questions among L2 German speakers 
Applied psycholinguistics  2009;30(4):603-636.
Using the self-paced-reading paradigm, the present study examines whether highly proficient second language (L2) speakers of German (English L1) use case-marking information during the on-line comprehension of unambiguous wh-extractions, even when task demands do not draw explicit attention to this morphosyntactic feature in German. Results support previous findings, in that both the native and the L2 German speakers exhibited an immediate subject-preference in the matrix clause, suggesting they were sensitive to case-marking information. However, only among the native speakers did this subject-preference carry over to reading times in the complement clause. The results from the present study are discussed in light of current debates regarding the ability of L2 speakers to attain native-like processing strategies in their L2.
doi:10.1017/S014271640999004X
PMCID: PMC2757782  PMID: 20161006
3.  Language selection in bilingual speech: Evidence for inhibitory processes 
Acta psychologica  2008;128(3):416-430.
Although bilinguals rarely make random errors of language when they speak, research on spoken production provides compelling evidence to suggest that both languages are active when only one language is spoken (e.g., Poulisse, 1999). Moreover, the parallel activation of the two languages appears to characterize the planning of speech for highly proficient bilinguals as well as second language learners. In this paper we first review the evidence for cross-language activity during single word production and then consider the two major alternative models of how the intended language is eventually selected. According to language-specific selection models, both languages may be active but bilinguals develop the ability to selectively attend to candidates in the intended language. The alternative model, that candidates from both languages compete for selection, requires that cross-language activity be modulated to allow selection to occur. On the latter view, the selection mechanism may require that candidates in the non-target language be inhibited. We consider the evidence for such an inhibitory mechanism in a series of recent behavioral and neuroimaging studies.
doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2008.02.001
PMCID: PMC2585366  PMID: 18358449

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