September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2019
Using Frequency Tagging to Understand the Impact of Bilingualism on Visual Attention
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ethan Kutlu
    Department of Psychology, University of Florida
  • Ryan Barry-Anwar
    Department of Psychology, University of Florida
  • Lisa S. Scott
    Department of Psychology, University of Florida
Journal of Vision May 2019, Vol.19, 321. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.321
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      Ethan Kutlu, Ryan Barry-Anwar, Lisa S. Scott; Using Frequency Tagging to Understand the Impact of Bilingualism on Visual Attention. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):321. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.321.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Although bilingualism has been associated with cognitive control advantages, we know little about how bilingualism impacts visual attention. Here the ability to simultaneously attend to two different visual stimuli was examined before and after a novel object label learning task in bilingual (n=17) and monolingual (n=16) adults. Before and after learning, participants completed a frequency tagging task while steady state visual evoked potentials (ssVEPs) were recorded (Figure 1). ssVEPs were measured as an index of attention in response to two overlapping visual stimuli (faces and novel objects) presented at a rate of 5Hz and 6Hz, respectively. Label training included one set of novel objects labeled with individual level names (e.g., “Boris”) and the other set labeled with a single category name (e.g., “Hitchel”). The signal to noise ratio (SNR) at each frequency (i.e., 5Hz or 6Hz) was analyzed across posterior cortical regions. Although there were no differential neural responses between monolinguals and bilinguals for objects, for faces there was an interaction between pre- and post-test, label type, and bilingualism, F(1, 31)=5.84, p = .02, such that monolinguals showed a significantly reduced SNR in response to faces at post-test than at pre-test when viewed concurrently with objects trained at the individual level, p = .004. These differences were not present when monolinguals viewed faces with objects trained at the category level, and no effects were seen for bilinguals (Figure 2). Relative to bilinguals, monolinguals showed a reduced SNR in response to faces at post-test when presented with objects trained at the individual level, p = .02. These results suggest that individual level label learning may result in differential visual attention to faces when objects are presented simultaneously. Additionally, monolingual and bilingual individuals differentially distribute attention to faces viewed in the presence of objects learned at the individual level.

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