Age-related differences in interlingual priming: a behavioural and electrophysiological investigation.

Research paper by Shanna S Kousaie, Natalie A NA Phillips

Indexed on: 13 Oct '10Published on: 13 Oct '10Published in: Neuropsychology, development, and cognition. Section B, Aging, neuropsychology and cognition


Reaction time (RT) and the N400 ERP component were measured to examine age-related differences in bilingual language processing. Although young bilinguals appear to access both languages simultaneously (i.e., non-selective access), little is known about language selection in older adults. The effect of language context on language selectivity was investigated using interlingual homographs (IH; i.e., words with identical orthography but distinct semantic features in two languages, e.g., coin meaning 'corner' in French and 'money' in English). Younger and older French/English bilinguals were presented with triplets of letter strings comprised of a language context cue, an IH, and a target word, in a lexical decision semantic priming task. RT and ERP results support non-selective language access in young adults; however, the older bilinguals used the language context cue to bias their reading of the IH. Results are discussed in terms of age-related changes in language processing and context use in bilinguals.