Voluntary Language Switching in the Context of Bilingual Aphasia

Behav Sci (Basel). 2020 Sep 18;10(9):141. doi: 10.3390/bs10090141.


As studies of bilingual language control (BLC) seek to explore the underpinnings of bilinguals' abilities to juggle two languages, different types of language switching tasks have been used to uncover switching and mixing effects and thereby reveal what proactive and reactive control mechanisms are involved in language switching. Voluntary language switching tasks, where a bilingual participant can switch freely between their languages while naming, are being utilized more often due to their greater ecological validity compared to cued switching paradigms. Because this type of task had not yet been applied to language switching in bilingual patients, our study sought to explore voluntary switching in bilinguals with aphasia (BWAs) as well as in healthy bilinguals. In Experiment 1, we replicated previously reported results of switch costs and mixing benefits within our own bilingual population of Catalan-Spanish bilinguals. With Experiment 2, we compared both the performances of BWAs as a group and as individuals against control group performance. Results illustrated a complex picture of language control abilities, indicating varying degrees of association and dissociation between factors of BLC. Given the diversity of impairments in BWAs' language control mechanisms, we highlight the need to examine BLC at the individual level and through the lens of theoretical cognitive control frameworks in order to further parse out how bilinguals regulate their language switching.

Keywords: bilingual aphasia; bilingual language control; proactive control; reactive control; voluntary language switching.