Lecture by Dr. Kalinka Timmer

Title: Bilingualism: the flexible link between language and executive control.

Abstract: The current view is that the ongoing experience of language switching, associated with bilingualism, modifies the neural networks involved in switching during nonverbal tasks. In agreement, our ERP results demonstrated that bilingualism modifies crucial brain networks, possibly by integrating pathways generally used for different domains. However, the extent to which bilingual language control (BLC) and domain-general executive control (EC) share some of their mechanisms is still a debated issue. We investigate the question of cross-talk by addressing an important problem, namely the reliability of the measures used to investigate cross-talk, as well as by taking a novel approach, using short-term language switching training. We found that BLC and EC share some of their underlying mechanisms and seems to depend on the type of context one is in. For example, when driving on a highway, less EC is necessary than when we are driving downtown with pedestrians and cyclists around. Similarly, we ask if language context can also affect our control mechanisms. We show that control adjusts depending on the language context a bilingual is in. Thus, BLC and EC show some cross-talk and flexibly adapt to the context at the current moment. This short-term flexibility might underlie the long-term effects bilingualism has on EC.

WEDNESDAY June 5th, 13-14.30, Institute of Psychology UJ, ul. Ingardena 6, room 2.15

About Kalinka Timmer

I obtained the doctoral degree from Leiden University (The Netherlands) in 2013 investigating the underlying process of reading aloud during monolingual- and bilingual language processing with event-related brain potentials (ERPs). In 2012, I continued with the investigation of speech planning between alphabetic and non-alphabetic languages as a post-doctoral fellow. Following this post-doc, I worked at York University (Canada) from 2014, where I investigated whether bilingualism influence domain general control processes. After receiving the Rubicon grant from the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) I have started working at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain) where I am investigating the relation between language- and task switching for different types of bilinguals with the Juan de la Cierva grant from the Spanish government (MINECO).