Competition or cooperation? Impact of short-term and long-term language experience on language regulation and cognitive functions in bilinguals.


The overarching goal of the project program is to build foundations for better understanding of how different types of language experience affect cognitive and linguistic processes. More specifically, we aim at identifying factors which facilitate and hinder language skills in bilinguals. Although bilingualism and second language learning have gained a great scientific interest in the past two decades, still little is known about the precise mechanisms and conditions that help overcome language competition and that lead to an ultimately successful between-language cooperation. We want to enhance scientific understanding of how prior language experiences (e.g. language learning history and context of language use) modify the ways in which bilinguals access and control their languages.

Two types of language experience will be investigated: short-term (related to experimental manipulations) and long-term (related to a life event, i.e. migration) and their impact on language production and comprehension. Our primary focus will be on the impact on native language processing, a topic that up until recently has been largely neglected in past research on bilingualism. Moreover, we will explore how different types of language experience contribute to the hypothesized link between language control and cognitive control. At the core of the project program are the questions of the mechanisms and consequences of the interplay between language and cognition.

Principal Investigator: dr hab. Zofia Wodniecka

Support: Sonata BIS, National Science Centre


How does a second language proficiency and immersion experience modulate interference between languages? Control mechanisms underlying language comprehension in bilinguals.


The main goal of the present project is to investigate cognitive processes underlying language comprehension in bilinguals. A particular focus of the project is on the role that second language proficiency as well as immersion in a second language environment have on language interference and inhibitory control in the bilingual mind. Based on previous research it is hypothesized that high L2 proficiency is related to more efficient resolution of cross-language interference. Immersion in a second language environment, in turn, is expected to limit easiness of access to the native language and cause significant interference from a second language to a native one. We will also explore potential contribution of individual differences in domain-general cognitive control on efficiency of language control in bilingual comprehension.

Principal Investigator: Joanna Durlik

Support: Preludium, National Science Centre


Does bilingualism improve cognitive control mechanism?  – investigaton of behavioral indices and neural correlates.


The main goal of the project is to establish the relations between three different types of bilingualism (single-language context / dual-language context / dense code switching) and effectiveness of cognitive/executive control in bilingual population on behavioral and neural (ERPs) levels.

Principal Investigator: Patrycja Kałamała

Support: Diamond Grant, Ministry of Science and Higher Education


How bilingual experience influences flexibility of the cognitive system. Neural bases and consequences for social categorization.


In this project we focus on the impact of bilingualism and second language expertise on three levels of analysis: cognitive (the mind), neural (the brain) and social (thoughts about, and interactions with, others). We build on the assumption, fundamental to contemporary cognitive science, that the three levels interact and that a full understanding of mental functions is only possible when all three perspectives are taken into account. In the current studies, we investigate the development of control processes and mental flexibility during the course of second language immersion and in different forms of bilingualism. In order to pinpoint neural changes that underlie the development of second language expertise, we use event-related potentials (ERPs) in addition to behavioural measures. ERP is an electrophysiological technique that measures the brain activity via electrodes attached to the scalp. Unlike other neuroimaging methods, ERP offers excellent temporal resolution. It provides highly detailed information about the time course of neurocognitive processes and may thus reveal aspects of skill development that may be overlooked in purely behavioral assessment.

Principal Investigator: dr. Zofia Wodniecka

Support: project “FOCUS”, Foundation for Polish Science


Development of bilingualism and cognitive control functionning – behavioral and psychophysiological investigation.


The main goal of the project is to explore the influence of second language (L2) expertise on the first language (L1) proficiency and cognitive control functioning. We test two main conclusions from our previous studies which have indicated that: (1) bilingualism is related to more effective attentional system, (2) L1 inhibition is caused by intensive L2 usage. In the longitudinal project (three testing waves within two-year period), the experimental group consists of high school students partially enrolled in English curriculum (12 hrs of lessons in English per week), whereas the control group consists of high school students, who learn English only as a foreign language (4 hrs per week).

Principal Investigator: dr. Zofia Wodniecka

Support: competition no 40, Ministry of Science and Higher Education, next National Science Centre


Language and Cognitive Development in Polish Bilingual Children – chances and problems.


This project is part of the European research collaboration COST IS0804 (, which investigates typical cognitive and linguistic development of bilingual children in different European countries. In collaboration with researchers from the University of Warsaw, we are working on the development of new methods to study linguistic and cognitive abilities in Polish bilingual children. Language development in bilingual children is slightly delayed in comparison with monolingual children and some of these natural delays might be interpreted as severe developmental impairments by care-takers, speech therapists and psychologists. In clinical practice, the symptoms can be mistaken with some characteristics of Specific Language Impairment. The COST project was established in order to tackle this problem on a European scale and our research should conclude in: 1) the characterization of the typical language development of Polish children acquiring English in a natural bilingual context (emigration), 2) the development of methods and techniques used in the assessment of linguistic development in Polish mono – and bilinguals. More information on this project is available on

Principal Investigators: prof. Ewa Haman(University of Warsaw),

dr hab. Zofia Wodniecka (Jagiellonian University)

Support: Ministry of Science and Higher Education, next National Science Centre


Functional decomposition of lexical access – event-related potentials study.


The present research project aims at finding what is the functional underpinning of lexical access (the process of retrieval of information associated with a word form the long-term memory, important for understanding the word in its context). More specifically, the project will try to answer two following questions: 1) is lexical access inevitably tied to semantic integration of a word with its semantic context? 2) when a word is processed, does the language comprehension system retrieve all semantic information associated with the word from the long-term memory, or it does so only with respect to information associated with the current context? The answer to these two questions will not only provide important information about language processing in general, but will also be informative with respect to better understanding the N400 component itself.

Principal Investigator: Jakub Szewczyk

Support: OPUS 3, National Science Centre




SUBTLEX-PL – Polish word frequencies based on movie subtitles. In two lexical decision experiments, we compare the new measures with frequency estimates derived from another Polish text corpus that includes predominantly written materials. We show that the frequencies derived from the two corpora perform best in predicting human performance in a lexical decision task if used in a complementary way. Our results suggest that the two corpora may have unequal potential for explaining human performance for words in different frequency ranges and that corpora based on written materials severely overestimate frequencies for formal words. We discuss some of the implications of these findings for future studies comparing different frequency estimates. In addition to frequencies for word forms, SUBTLEX-PL includes measures of contextual diversity, part-of-speech-specific word frequencies, frequencies of associated lemmas, and word bigrams, providing researchers with necessary tools for conducting psycholinguistic research in Polish. The database is freely available for research purposes and may be downloaded from the authors’ university Web site at here.

Principal Investigator: Paweł Mandera (Ghent University)