Language control in bilinguals: Intention to speak vs. execution of speech

Carlo Reverberi, Anna Kuhlen, Jubin Abutalebi, R. Stefan Greulich, Albert Costa, Shima Seyed-Allaei, John Dylan Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bilinguals require a high degree of cognitive control to select the language intended for speaking and inhibit the unintended. Previous neuroimaging studies have not teased apart brain regions for generating the intention to use a given language, and those for speaking in that language. Separating these two phases can clarify at what stage competition between languages occurs. In this fMRI study German-English bilinguals were first cued to use German or English. After a delay, they named a picture in the cued language. During the intention phase, the precuneus, right superior lateral parietal lobule, and middle temporal gyrus were more activated when participants had to update the currently active language. During language execution activation was higher for English compared to German in brain areas associated with cognitive control, most notably the anterior cingulate and the caudate. Our results suggest two different systems enabling cognitive control during bilingual language production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBrain and Language
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2015


  • Bilingualism
  • Cognitive control
  • Intention
  • Language
  • Lexicon
  • Naming
  • Speech
  • Time resolved fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Language control in bilinguals: Intention to speak vs. execution of speech'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this