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Choosing first or second language phonology in 125 ms [Abstract]

Timmer, K., Ganushchak, L. Y., Mitlina, Y., & Schiller, N. O. (2013). Choosing first or second language phonology in 125 ms [Abstract]. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25 Suppl., 164.
We are often in a bilingual situation (e.g., overhearing a conversation in the train). We investigated whether first (L1) and second language (L2) phonologies are automatically activated. A masked priming paradigm was used, with Russian words as targets and either Russian or English words as primes. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded while Russian (L1) – English (L2) bilinguals read aloud L1 target words (e.g. РЕЙС /reis/ ‘fl ight’) primed with either L1 (e.g. РАНА /rana/ ‘wound’) or L2 words (e.g. PACK). Target words were read faster when they were preceded by phonologically related L1 primes but not by orthographically related L2 primes. ERPs showed orthographic priming in the 125-200 ms time window. Thus, both L1 and L2 phonologies are simultaneously activated during L1 reading. The results provide support for non-selective models of bilingual reading, which assume automatic activation of the non-target language phonology even when it is not required by the task.
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