Highly Proficient Bilinguals Implement Inhibition: Evidence From n-2 Language Repetition Costs


  • Declerck Mathieu
  • Thoma Aniella M.
  • Koch Iring
  • Philipp Andrea M.

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Several, but not all models of language control assume that highly proficient bilinguals implement little to no inhibition during bilingual language production. In the current study, we tested this assumption with a less equivocal marker of inhibition (i.e., n-2 language repetition costs) than previous language switching studies have. N-2 language repetition costs denote worse performance when switching back to a recently abandoned language (i.e., worse performance in ABA language sequences than CBA sequences, where A, B, and C refer to different languages). Whereas this marker has solely been used to investigate second-language learners in prior studies, we examined highly proficient bilinguals. The results showed that substantial n-2 language repetition costs can he observed with highly proficient bilinguals. Moreover, this inhibition effect was substantial :for all 3 languages, but larger for the 2 dominant languages (Turkish and German) relative to the less proficient language (English). These findings indicate that even highly proficient bilinguals implement inhibition to restrict language production to the target language.

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