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The role of general executive functions in receptive language switching and monitoring*

  • JUSSI JYLKKÄ (a1), MINNA LEHTONEN (a1) (a2) (a3), ANNA KUUSAKOSKI (a1), FRED LINDHOLM (a1), SUZANNE C. A. HUT (a2) (a3) and MATTI LAINE (a1)...

We assessed language switch and mixing costs in a language-general semantic categorization task and examined how these costs relate to general inhibition and set shifting capacities. The participants were 51 native Finnish subjects with English as L2. The results showed significant symmetric language switch costs and, unexpectedly, a mixing advantage in L2: reaction times were faster in the mixed language block than in the single language block. The interactions with the general executive functions showed no consistent overall pattern. We argue that the L2 mixing advantage stems from statistical facilitation in line with a horse race model, or from opportunistic planning as suggested by the Adaptive Control hypothesis. We argue that the results overall indicate that lexical access in language reception is non-selective.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Department of Psychology, Abo Akademi University, Fabriksgatan 2, 20500 Åbo, Finland
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Supplementary material can be found online at


This study was supported by project grants from Emil Aaltonen Foundation and Helsinki University 3-year Funds, as well as an Academy of Finland grant (grant # 288880) to the second author. The last author was supported by grants from the Academy of Finland (project #260276) and the Åbo Akademi University Endowment (the BrainTrain project). We thank Teemu Laine for help with programming, Juhani Virta for assistance in gathering data, and the BrainTrain research group at the Abo Akademi University for valuable discussions. Finally, we thank Henri Olkoniemi for help with linear mixed models.

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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
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