The effects of bilingualism on controlled and automatic processing during lexical access

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The effects of bilingualism on individuals' controlled and automatic visual word processing during a semantic task were examined. Proficient bilinguals, intermediate bilinguals and monolinguals were presented with a semantic priming task where semantic relatedness of prime and target words was manipulated. Lexical stimuli were also manipulated in terms of the strength of association with their category meaning and their meaningfulness. Half of the lexical stimuli were presented at short SOA (automatic condition) and half - at long SOA (controlled condition). The results indicated that there was a strong category effect demonstrated by all language groups in both automatic and controlled conditions (strongly related words were processed faster than weakly related words). Monolinguals were found to outperform intermediate but not proficient bilinguals on controlled lexical task. Monolinguals also demonstrated a facilitation effect on automatic lexical task that was matched by proficient bilinguals but not intermediate bilinguals Consistent with the previous research was the finding that bilinguals' superior L2 skills tend to facilitate their L2 information processing.

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