Current exposure to a second language modulates bilingual visual word recognition: An EEG study

D. de León Rodríguez, M. Mouthon, J. M. Annoni, A. Khateb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bilingual word recognition has been the focus of much empirical work, but research on potential modulating factors, such as individual differences in L2 exposure, are limited. This study represents a first attempt to determine the impact of L2-exposure on bilingual word recognition in both languages. To this end, highly fluent bilinguals were split into two groups according to their L2-exposure, and performed a semantic categorisation task while recording their behavioural responses and electro-cortical (EEG) signal. We predicted that lower L2-exposure should produce less efficient L2 word recognition processing at the behavioural level, alongside neurophysiological changes at the early pre-lexical and lexical levels, but not at a post-lexical level. Results confirmed this hypothesis in accuracy and in the N1 component of the EEG signal. Precisely, bilinguals with lower L2-exposure appeared less accurate in determining semantic relatedness when target words were presented in L2, but this condition posed no such problem for bilinguals with higher L2-exposure. Moreover, L2-exposure modulates early processes of word recognition not only in L2 but also in L1 brain activity, thus challenging a fully non-selective access account (cf. BIA + model, Dijkstra and van Heuven, 2002). We interpret our findings with reference to the frequency-lag hypothesis (Gollan et al., 2011).

Original languageEnglish
Article number108109
StatePublished - 7 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Bilingual word recognition
  • EEG
  • L2 exposure
  • Language mediation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Current exposure to a second language modulates bilingual visual word recognition: An EEG study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this