Face Recognition and Bilingual Lexical Access: Familiarized faces prime performance in a written language-selection task

AbstractA recent line of studies (Molnar, Ibáñez-Molina, & Carreiras 2015; Woumans et al., 2015; Martin, Molnar, & Carreiras, 2016) suggests that bilingual language activation can be modulated by visual information from videos of speakers as they produce a test item. However, the use of video stimuli leaves the possibility that face-priming effects were actually driven by knowledge of speaker-specific phonetic features. To avoid this potential confound, this study used face prime images that were temporally separated from written test words. English native participants with high Spanish proficiency performed a timed language-decision task on Spanish/English words shown immediately after familiarized faces associated with either Spanish/English. Congruence between the language of the face primes and of the words had a significant effect on response times for English words but not for Spanish words. These findings suggest that familiar faces may modulate language access in bilinguals, but that this effect varies with proficiency.


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