Using the DRM paradigm to assess language processing in monolinguals and bilinguals

Mem Cognit. 2020 Jul;48(5):870-883. doi: 10.3758/s13421-020-01016-6.


Both languages are jointly activated in the bilingual brain, requiring bilinguals to select the target language while avoiding interference from the unwanted language. This cross-language interference is similar to the within-language interference created by the Deese-Roediger-McDermott false memory paradigm (DRM; Roediger & McDermott, 1995, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 21[4], 803-814). Although the mechanisms mediating false memory in the DRM paradigm remain an area of investigation, two of the more prominent theories-implicit associative response (IAR) and fuzzy trace-provide frameworks for using the DRM paradigm to advance our understanding of bilingual language processing. Three studies are reported comparing accuracy of monolingual and bilingual participants on different versions of the DRM. Study 1 presented lists of phonological associates and found that bilinguals showed higher rates of false recognition than did monolinguals. Study 2 used the standard semantic variant of the task and found that bilinguals showed lower false recognition rates than did monolinguals. Study 3 replicated and extended the findings in Experiment 2 in another semantic version of the task presented to younger and older adult monolingual and bilingual participants. These results are discussed within the frameworks of IAR and fuzzy-trace theories as further explicating differences between monolingual and bilingual processing.

Keywords: Aging; Bilingualism; False memory; Phonology; Selective attention; Semantics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Memory