Language can have a powerful effect on how people experience events. Here, we examine how the languages people speak guide attention and influence what they remember from a visual scene. When hearing a word, listeners activate other similar-sounding words before settling on the correct target. We tested whether this linguistic co-activation during a visual search task changes memory for objects. Bilinguals and monolinguals remembered English competitor words that overlapped phonologically with a spoken English target better than control objects without name overlap. High Spanish proficiency also enhanced memory for Spanish competitors that overlapped across languages. We conclude that linguistic diversity partly accounts for differences in higher cognitive functions like memory, with multilinguals providing a fertile ground for studying the interaction between language and cognition.
|Date made available
|Jul 21 2023