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Sci Rep. 2016 May 13;6:26171. doi: 10.1038/srep26171.

The proactive bilingual brain: Using interlocutor identity to generate predictions for language processing.

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BCBL. Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, Paseo Mikeletegi 69, 20009 San Sebastian, Spain.
IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for Science, Maria Diaz de Haro 3, 48013 Bilbao, Spain.


The present study investigated the proactive nature of the human brain in language perception. Specifically, we examined whether early proficient bilinguals can use interlocutor identity as a cue for language prediction, using an event-related potentials (ERP) paradigm. Participants were first familiarized, through video segments, with six novel interlocutors who were either monolingual or bilingual. Then, the participants completed an audio-visual lexical decision task in which all the interlocutors uttered words and pseudo-words. Critically, the speech onset started about 350 ms after the beginning of the video. ERP waves between the onset of the visual presentation of the interlocutors and the onset of their speech significantly differed for trials where the language was not predictable (bilingual interlocutors) and trials where the language was predictable (monolingual interlocutors), revealing that visual interlocutor identity can in fact function as a cue for language prediction, even before the onset of the auditory-linguistic signal.

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