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Neuroimage. 2011 Jun 15;56(4):2300-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.03.049. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Local and global inhibition in bilingual word production: fMRI evidence from Chinese-English bilinguals.

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State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, China.


The current study examined the neural correlates associated with local and global inhibitory processes used by bilinguals to resolve interference between competing responses. Two groups of participants completed both blocked and mixed picture naming tasks while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). One group first named a set of pictures in L1, and then named the same pictures in L2. The other group first named pictures in L2, and then in L1. After the blocked naming tasks, both groups performed a mixed language naming task (i.e., naming pictures in either language according to a cue). The comparison between the blocked and mixed naming tasks, collapsed across groups, was defined as the local switching effect, while the comparison between blocked naming in each language was defined as the global switching effect. Distinct patterns of neural activation were found for local inhibition as compared to global inhibition in bilingual word production. Specifically, the results suggest that the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the supplementary motor area (SMA) play important roles in local inhibition, while the dorsal left frontal gyrus and parietal cortex are important for global inhibition.

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