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Language switching
Adaptive Control Hypothesis
Cognitive control
Inter-sentential switching
Intra-sentential switching
Interactional contexts
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Lai, G., & O'Brien, B. A. (2020). Examining language switching and cognitive control through the adaptive control hypothesis. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, Article 1171.
Increasing evidence suggests that language switching is a distinct form of bilingual language control that engages cognitive control. The most relevant and widely discussed framework is the Adaptive Control Hypothesis. This theoretical framework identifies language switching to be a key aspect of bilingual language control. It proposes that bilinguals’ engagement in three different types of interactional contexts (single-language context, dual-language context, and dense code-switching context) confers adaptive effects on cognitive control processes. These contexts differ in the presence of both languages and how language control is exercised. The model makes predictions about behavioral outcomes associated with these contexts. This study is a novel attempt to test for the model’s assumptions, predictions, and its interactional contexts. It seeks to examine the relationship between language switching behaviors, reported bilingual interactional contexts, and verbal and non-verbal cognitive control through this theoretical framework. Seventy-four English–Mandarin young adult bilinguals were measured on their self-reported engagements in the different interactional contexts and production of word and sentential language switches through experimental language switching tasks (alternating, semi-cued, and uncued switching). Cognitive control processes in verbal and non-verbal goal maintenance, interference control, selective response inhibition, and task engagement and disengagement were measured. Overall, partial support for the model was observed. Higher reported engagement in the dual-language context was positively but not uniquely related to cognitive engagement and disengagement on verbal tasks. Non-verbal goal maintenance and interference control, on the other hand, were related to uncued inter-sentential language switching. However, the distinction of the model’s three interactional contexts might not be evident in a multilingual society, as findings suggest that there is fluidity in bilinguals’ interactional contexts. Current findings reveal the complex interaction of language switching with distinct domains and cognitive control processes. This study is significant in testing an influential bilingual language control model.
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