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Neuroimage. 2019 Jun 11;199:454-465. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.06.022. [Epub ahead of print]

Brain network reconfiguration for language and domain-general cognitive control in bilinguals.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning & IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China.
2
Bilingual Cognition and Development Lab, Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, 510420, China.
3
State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning & IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China; Center for Collaboration and Innovation in Brain and Learning Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China.
4
State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning & IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China; Center for Collaboration and Innovation in Brain and Learning Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China. Electronic address: guotm@bnu.edu.cn.

Abstract

For bilinguals, language control is needed for selecting the target language during language production. Numerous studies have examined the neural correlates of language control and shown a close relationship between language control and domain-general cognitive control. However, it remains unknown how these brain regions coordinate with each other when bilinguals exert cognitive control over linguistic and nonlinguistic representations. We addressed this gap using an extended unified structural equation modeling (euSEM) approach. Sixty-five Chinese-English bilinguals performed language switching and nonverbal switching tasks during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning. The results showed that language control was served by a cooperative brain network, including the frontal lobe, the parietal cortex, subcortical areas, and the cerebellum. More importantly, we found that language control recruited more subcortical areas and connections from frontal to subcortical areas compared with domain-general cognitive control, demonstrating a reconfigurable brain network. In addition, the reconfiguration efficiency of the brain network was mainly determined by general cognitive ability but was also mediated by second language (L2) proficiency. These findings provide the first data-driven connectivity model that specifies the brain network for language control in bilinguals and also shed light on the relationship between language control and domain-general cognitive control.

KEYWORDS:

Bilingualism; Effective connectivity; Language switching; Task switching; fMRI

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