The role of inhibition in the control of bilingual speech production

Open Access
Linck, Jared A.
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
August 21, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Judith Fran Kroll, Committee Chair
  • Richard Alan Carlson, Committee Member
  • Daniel J Weiss, Committee Member
  • Michael J Wenger, Committee Member
  • Robert William Schrauf, Committee Member
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Speech Production
  • Bilingualism
  • Inhibition
Recent psycholinguistic research suggests that activation spreads in parallel to both of a bilingual’s languages when speaking. Some models of bilingual word production (e.g., Green, 1998) assume that activated lexical alternatives in both languages compete for selection and that this competition is resolved by an inhibitory control mechanism. Evidence for inhibition during speech planning has been accumulating in recent behavioral and neurophysiological studies of bilingual speech production. Recently, Levy, McVeigh, Marful, and Anderson (2007) reported that repeated picture naming in the second language (L2) induced inhibition of the picture’s name in the first or dominant language (L1). This inhibition was argued to operate at the level of the phonology. The current study was designed to directly test this claim using an online measure of inhibition. In a series of four experiments, L2 learners and highly proficient bilinguals named pictures in English and Spanish. The English names of these pictures were later presented as items in a lexical decision task to examine whether naming pictures in Spanish had consequences for subsequent access to the English picture names. All four experiments failed to replicate the inhibitory effects reported by Levy et al. If anything, naming pictures in Spanish facilitated rather than inhibited retrieval of the corresponding English picture name. The results of this study highlight the need for a clearer elucidation of the nature of inhibition in bilingual speech production. The implications for the role of inhibitory control in models of bilingual speech production are discussed.