Partially shared neural mechanisms of language control and executive control in bilinguals: Meta-analytic comparisons of language and task switching studies

Image credit: Unsplash


The extent to which bilingual language control (BLC) is related to domain-general executive control (EC) remains unclear. The present study applied activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analyses to identify commonalities and distinctions in the brain regions across domains reported in neuroimaging studies. We specifically compare results from two experimental tasks-language switching, a typical measure of BLC, and task switching, an experiment that measures EC. Conjunction analyses showed a domain-general pattern between language switching and task switching, with convergent activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), pre-SMA/dACC complex (pre-supplementary motor area/dorsal anterior cingulate cortex), and left precuneus. Regarding domain-specificity, contrast analyses revealed stronger convergence of activation in the left fusiform gyrus and occipital gyrus in language switching compared to task switching, and conversely, stronger convergence of activation in the left DLPFC in task switching. Overall, these findings illustrate the partially overlapping nature of the neural circuits involved in BLC and EC.

Neuropsychologia, 150, 107688