Studying bilingualism through eye-tracking and brain imaging

Sayuri Hayakawa, Viorica Marian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Language is full of ambiguities, ranging from challenging phonetic contrasts to homophones and homographs. While some ambiguity is inherent in any language, the challenge of resolving linguistic conflicts is even greater for those who speak multiple languages. The question of how bilinguals represent and control their two languages has been addressed using various methodologies ranging from case studies of multilingual aphasics to advanced neuroimaging techniques. In this chapter, we focus on two methods in particular that have contributed to the understanding of bilingual cognition. First, we review evidence from eye-tracking studies demonstrating that bilinguals activate their two languages in parallel. We follow with a discussion of fMRI research investigating whether different languages have shared or separate representations in the brain. Finally, we examine the processes underlying language control and discuss the ways in which different methodologies can contribute to our understanding of bilingual language processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBilingual Lexical Ambiguity Resolution
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781316535967
StatePublished - Dec 24 2019


  • Bilingual lexical ambiguity
  • Cognitive control
  • Compound-coordinate bilingual
  • Cross-linguistic conflict
  • Eye movements
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Homographs
  • Multivoxel pattern analysis
  • Nonselective lexical access
  • Selective lexical access
  • Visual world paradigm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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