Abstract

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we found that when bilinguals named pictures or read words aloud, in their native or nonnative language, activation was higher relative to monolinguals in 5 left hemisphere regions: dorsal precentral gyrus, pars triangularis, pars opercularis, superior temporal gyrus, and planum temporale. We further demonstrate that these areas are sensitive to increasing demands on speech production in monolinguals. This suggests that the advantage of being bilingual comes at the expense of increased work in brain areas that support monolingual word processing. By comparing the effect of bilingualism across a range of tasks, we argue that activation is higher in bilinguals compared with monolinguals because word retrieval is more demanding; articulation of each word is less rehearsed; and speech output needs careful monitoring to avoid errors when competition for word selection occurs between, as well as within, language.

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