Activities and Seminars

Suzanne Hut: Semantic processing and language control in bilinguals and L2 learners
Date: Sep 19, 2017

What: Semantic processing and language control in bilinguals and L2 learners

Where: BCBL Auditorium (Paseo Mikeletegi, 69 1º floor)

Who: Suzanne Hut, PhD candidate, University of Helsinki, Finland.

When: 12:00 PM, noon

In this short presentation, I will discuss two recent studies that investigated language switching during comprehension. The first is an EEG study on language switches during written sentence comprehension, in native speakers of English and L2 learners with a high and moderate proficiency in English. Here, we showed that language switches are costly on the neural level, but do not interfere with semantic processing. Also, semantic N400 effects were similar in these L2 learners compared to native speakers. In our second MEG study, we presented early, balanced Finnish-Swedish bilinguals with spoken words in Finnish, Swedish and English (high proficient L2). Switches from the later learned English to either of the native languages resulted in increased neural activation in the superior temporal gyrus (STG) 400-600 ms after word onset (N400m response), whereas such increase was not detected for switches to English or between the native languages. English non-switch trials, moreover, showed higher activation levels in an earlier time window of 350-450 ms in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). These asymmetric switch costs suggest suppression of native languages during the use of a later learned language even during passive perception.


Hut, S. C. A. & Leminen, A. (2017). Shaving Bridges and Tuning Kitaraa: The Effect of Language Switching on Semantic Processing. Frontiers in Psychology.

Hut, S. C. A. , Helenius, P., Leminen, A., Mäkelä, J., & Lehtonen, M.  Language control mechanisms differ for native languages: neuromagnetic evidence from trilingual language switching. (currently under review).