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When language meets memory: the role of language exposure in semantic- episodic memory interaction in bilinguals


Understanding the implications of the level a language use in how we remember our past is a challenging and relevant goal in our growing bilingual world. Research evidence on memory and bilingualism converges in the idea that the level of language use changes the ability to access semantic representations. At the same time, individuals´ capacity to access semantic representations facilitates to process semantic information in a relational manner, which subsequently enhances episodic memory. This research project is aimed at investigating interactions between semantic and episodic memory as a function of the language use by means of behavioural and neuroimaging techniques. Basque/Spanish early bilinguals with high proficiency in both languages will be divided in two groups based on their use of languages in their everyday life: balance bilinguals (BB), if they use at the same level both languages; and unbalance bilinguals (UB), if they use one language over the other. We will employ two memory paradigms that are sensitive to semantic-episodic memory interactions. On one hand, categorical memory paradigm will be used to examine beneficial influences of categorical processing on episodic memory; and on the other hand, Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm will provide a measure of false episodic memories that will be modulated by relational semantic processing. In both paradigms, no differences between languages would be expected for BB. In contrast, UB in less used language condition would show decreased level of categorical memory and fewer false memories comparing with more used language condition. Regarding neuroimaging procedures, fMRI will allow us to examine brain pattern activations, connectivity and pattern prediction related to semantic processing and memory and to look for neural differences associated with the level of active use of a language. All this will facilitate the understanding of the intricate relationship between bilingualism and memory.


Net EU contribution
€ 158 121,60
Paseo Mikeletegi 69 2
20009 San Sebastian

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Noreste País Vasco Gipuzkoa
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
€ 0,00