Bilingualism: Language and Cognition

Research Notes

Inhibitory control predicts language switching performance in trilingual speech production*

JARED A. LINCKa1 c1, JOHN W. SCHWIETERa2 and GRETCHEN SUNDERMANa3

a1 University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language

a2 Wilfrid Laurier University

a3 Florida State University

Abstract

This study investigated the role of domain-general inhibitory control in trilingual speech production. Taking an individual differences approach, we examined the relationship between performance on a non-linguistic measure of inhibitory control (the Simon task) and a multilingual language switching task for a group of fifty-six native English (L1) speakers learning French (L2) and Spanish (L3). Better inhibitory control was related to reduced switch costs, but only when switching into or out of the more dominant L1, where inhibitory control has been theorized to be most important (Green, 1998). The results provide evidence of a direct link between inhibitory control abilities and language switching capabilities, and suggest constraints on the conditions under which a domain-general inhibitory control mechanism supports language switching.

(Received November 10 2010)

(Revised August 12 2011)

(Accepted August 21 2011)

(Online publication November 29 2011)

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Jared A. Linck, University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language, 7005 52nd Avenue, College Park, MD 20742, USA jlinck@casl.umd.edu

Footnotes

* The authors thank Scott Jackson and Bob Slevc for comments on a previous draft of the manuscript, and Anat Prior, David Green and one anonymous reviewer for comments throughout the review process. A portion of these results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Assocation for Applied Linguistics, March 2011.

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