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Language control in bilinguals: The adaptive control hypothesis

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      Speech comprehension and production are governed by control processes. We explore their nature and dynamics in bilingual speakers with a focus on speech production. Prior research indicates that individuals increase cognitive control in order to achieve a desired goal. In the adaptive control hypothesis we propose a stronger hypothesis: Language control processes themselves adapt to the recurrent demands placed on them by the interactional context. Adapting a control process means changing a parameter or parameters about the way it works (its neural capacity or efficiency) or the way it works in concert, or in cascade, with other control processes (e.g., its connectedness). We distinguish eight control processes (goal maintenance, conflict monitoring, interference suppression, salient cue detection, selective response inhibition, task disengagement, task engagement, opportunistic planning). We consider the demands on these processes imposed by three interactional contexts (single language, dual language, and dense code-switching). We predict adaptive changes in the neural regions and circuits associated with specific control processes. A dual-language context, for example, is predicted to lead to the adaptation of a circuit mediating a cascade of control processes that circumvents a control dilemma. Effective test of the adaptive control hypothesis requires behavioural and neuroimaging work that assesses language control in a range of tasks within the same individual.

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      This individual differences study examined the separability of three often postulated executive functions-mental set shifting ("Shifting"), information updating and monitoring ("Updating"), and inhibition of prepotent responses ("Inhibition")-and their roles in complex "frontal lobe" or "executive" tasks. One hundred thirty-seven college students performed a set of relatively simple experimental tasks that are considered to predominantly tap each target executive function as well as a set of frequently used executive tasks: the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), Tower of Hanoi (TOH), random number generation (RNG), operation span, and dual tasking. Confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the three target executive functions are moderately correlated with one another, but are clearly separable. Moreover, structural equation modeling suggested that the three functions contribute differentially to performance on complex executive tasks. Specifically, WCST performance was related most strongly to Shifting, TOH to Inhibition, RNG to Inhibition and Updating, and operation span to Updating. Dual task performance was not related to any of the three target functions. These results suggest that it is important to recognize both the unity and diversity of executive functions and that latent variable analysis is a useful approach to studying the organization and roles of executive functions. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.
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        Conflict monitoring and anterior cingulate cortex: an update.

        One hypothesis concerning the human dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is that it functions, in part, to signal the occurrence of conflicts in information processing, thereby triggering compensatory adjustments in cognitive control. Since this idea was first proposed, a great deal of relevant empirical evidence has accrued. This evidence has largely corroborated the conflict-monitoring hypothesis, and some very recent work has provided striking new support for the theory. At the same time, other findings have posed specific challenges, especially concerning the way the theory addresses the processing of errors. Recent research has also begun to shed light on the larger function of the ACC, suggesting some new possibilities concerning how conflict monitoring might fit into the cingulate's overall role in cognition and action.
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          Anterior cingulate conflict monitoring and adjustments in control.

          Conflict monitoring by the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has been posited to signal a need for greater cognitive control, producing neural and behavioral adjustments. However, the very occurrence of behavioral adjustments after conflict has been questioned, along with suggestions that there is no direct evidence of ACC conflict-related activity predicting subsequent neural or behavioral adjustments in control. Using the Stroop color-naming task and controlling for repetition effects, we demonstrate that ACC conflict-related activity predicts both greater prefrontal cortex activity and adjustments in behavior, supporting a role of ACC conflict monitoring in the engagement of cognitive control.

            Author and article information

            [1 ] Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences, Faculty of Brain Sciences, University College London, London, UK
            [2 ] Faculty of Psychology, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University and San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy
            [3 ] Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
            Author notes
            Correspondence should be addressed to David W. Green, Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK. E-mail:

            DG was supported by the Wellcome Trust.

            J Cogn Psychol (Hove)
            J Cogn Psychol (Hove)
            Journal of Cognitive Psychology (Hove, England)
            Taylor & Francis
            24 May 2013
            August 2013
            : 25
            : 5
            : 515-530
            4095950 10.1080/20445911.2013.796377
            © 2013 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.

            This is an open access article distributed under the Supplemental Terms and Conditions for iOpenAccess articles published in Taylor & Francis journals , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.

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