Volume 10, Issue 6
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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Visual world studies with bilinguals have demonstrated spontaneous cross-linguistic activations. In two experiments, we examined whether concurrent visual working memory (VWM) load constrains bilingual parallel activation during spoken word comprehension. Hindi-English bilinguals heard a spoken word in Hindi (L1) or English (L2) and saw a display containing the spoken word-referent, a phonological cohort of the spoken word’s translation and two unrelated objects. Participants completed a concurrent WM task of remembering an array of five coloured squares and judging its similarity with a test array. Participants were asked to click on the spoken word-referent in Experiment 1 but not in Experiment 2. Reduced parallel activation and enhanced target activation was observed under the load for L2 spoken words in Experiment 1 (where the task-demands were high). The findings suggest that a VWM load can constrain the spontaneous activation of an irrelevant lexicon, under certain conditions.


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