Performance of bilinguals in a picture-word interference task
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The picture-word interference task was administered to Spanish-English adults in order to determine whether the lexicons of bilinguals are integrated or whether words are stored and accessed separately in semantic memory. Pictures were printed with Spanish words naming other objects, with English translations, and with X's. Spanish and English distractor words were observed to slow down picture naming in both languages. Also, an interaction was detected among subjects naming pictures in English. On the first trial Spanish words produced more interference than English words, whereas the pattern was reversed thereafter. This effect is attributed to task novelty, which disappears with practice. No differential patterns of interference were observed among subjects naming pictures in Spanish, probably because of greater error variance. Results for English picture-naming bilinguals supported the integration hypothesis but suggested that there is less distance between words within a language than between languages in semantic memory.
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