Differential recruitment of executive control regions during phonological competition in monolinguals and bilinguals

Viorica Marian*, Sarah Chabal, James Bartolotti, Kailyn Bradley, Arturo E. Hernandez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Behavioral research suggests that monolinguals and bilinguals differ in how they manage within-language phonological competition when listening to language. The current study explored whether bilingual experience might also change the neural resources recruited to control spoken-word competition. Seventeen Spanish-English bilinguals and eighteen English monolinguals completed an fMRI task in which they searched for a picture representing an aurally presented word (e.g., ". candy") from an array of four presented images. On competitor trials, one of the objects in the display shared initial phonological overlap with the target (e.g., candle). While both groups experienced competition and responded more slowly on competitor trials than on unrelated trials, fMRI data suggest that monolinguals, but not bilinguals, activated executive control regions (e.g., anterior cingulate, superior frontal gyrus) during within-language phonological competition. We conclude that differences in how monolinguals and bilinguals manage competition may result from bilinguals' more efficient deployment of neural resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-117
Number of pages10
JournalBrain and Language
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Bilingual
  • Cortical efficiency
  • Executive control
  • Functional neuroimaging
  • Monolingual
  • Phonological competition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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