Home » Abstract » An Investigation of Switching Cost through Lexical Decision Task

An Investigation of Switching Cost through Lexical Decision Task

Qian Zhou (University of Maryland) & Nan Jiang (University of Maryland)

qzhou1@umd.edu; njiang@umd.edu

Switching cost; L1-L2 processing; Visual word recognition; Monolingual and mixed context; Chinese English

Thirty Chinese-English bilinguals completed three lexical decision tasks — a Chinese monolingual condition, an English monolingual condition, and a mixed language condition. Critical stimuli in the mixed list consisted of both nonswitching and switching trials in both languages. A large number of fillers were added to minimize strategy and position effect. RT data was analyzed in two 2 X 2 Repeated Measures ANOVAs – language (Chinese vs. English in mixed condition) X switching (Switching vs. Nonswitching) and language (Chinese vs. English) X List (Monolingual list vs. nonswitching trials in Mixed list). While both analyses revealed a main effect of language, we did not observe a main effect of switching or a main effect of list, nor a significant interaction effect In other words, unlike in production tasks, asymmetrical language switching cost did not occur in a word recognition task. In addition, participants did not respond significantly faster in a monolingual condition than in a mixed language condition. We offered two explanations in line with our findings. First, while production task requires a top-down processing route through which inhibition is likely to be obligatory, word recognition task triggers bottom-up processing in which inhibition and suppression of the other language is not a necessary step. Second, an alternative explanation is that asymmetrical switching cost is more likely to be found in unbalanced bilinguals, but not among those highly proficient L2 learners who have been immersed in an L2 context for a rather long period of time.



[1] Costa A, Miozzo M, Caramazza A. Lexical selection in bilinguals: Do words in the bilingual’s two lexicons compete for selection? Journal of Memory and Language, 41, 365-397,1999.

[2] Finkbeiner M, Almeida J, Janssen N, Caramazza A. Lexical selection in ibilingual speech production does not involve language suppression. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32(5):1075-1089,2006.

[3] Green D. Mental control of the bilingual lexico-semantic system. Bilingual Language Cognition, 1, 67–8110, 1998.

[4] Guo T, Liu H, Misra M, Kroll JF. Local and global inhibition in bilingual word production: fMRI evidence from Chinese-English bilinguals. NeuroImage, 56, 2300–2309, 2011.

[5] Meuter RFI, Allport, Bilingual language switching in naming: Asymmetrical costs of language selection. Journal of Memory and Language, 40, 25-40, 1999.

[6] Misra M, Guo T, Bobb SC, Kroll JF. When bilinguals choose a single word to speak: Electrophysiological evidence for inhibition of the native language. Journal of Memory and Language, 67(1), 224-237, 2012.

[7] Philipp AM, Koch I. Inhibition in language switching: What is inhibited when switching between languages in naming tasks? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 35(5), 1187-1195.

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message