Speakers of different languages remember visual scenes differently

Matias Fernandez-Duque*, Sayuri Lynn Hayakawa, Viorica Marian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


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 coactivation 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 such as memory, with multilinguals providing a fertile ground for studying the interaction between language and cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereadh0064
JournalScience Advances
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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