The cognitive effects of extreme language processing: the interaction between interpreter training and the Updating function

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Our understanding of simultaneous interpreting as an extreme case of language processing in thebrain has significantly grown since the publication of the studies conducted by Hervais-Adelman et al.,2014 and Hervais-Adelman et al., 2015. In these studies, a pre-post training design was used to studythe effects of interpreter training. After 18 months of training, a decrease in neural activity wasobserved in the interpreters’ brain; most notably in the caudate nuclei, an important region forlanguage control namely monitoring and controlling the language in use (Crinion et al 2006).However, it remains unclear if this higher automaticity and decrease in neural activity results in moreefficient cognitive control processes, an effect that is often (but not always) observed in ordinarybilinguals (Paap & Greenberg, 2013).We present preliminary data from a longitudinal between-group study conducted at our lab in BrusselsUniversity to answer the question if interpreter training leads to behavioural advantages on cognitivecontrol. Participants were university students enrolled in a one-year Master’s programme inInterpreting. The performance of this group was compared to age-matched controls who wereenrolled in another one-year linguistic Master’s programme with no interpreter training. In line with the“unity and diversity” model of cognitive control (Miyake et al. 2000), we measured interpreters’performance on several components of cognitive control, such as Updating and Inhibition. In addition,our participants’ language control skills were tested in a receptive language-switching paradigm. Wesuggest that Updating might be of crucial importance in predicting interpreting ability and we discussthe theoretical implications of this finding for the study of extreme language processing.ReferencesCrinion, J., Turner, R., Grogan, A., Hanakawa, T., Noppeney, U., …, & Price, C.J. (2006). Languagecontrol in the bilingual brain. Science, 312(5779), 1537–1540.Hervais-Adelman, A., Moser-Mercer, B., Michel, C. & Golestani, N. (2014). fMRI of SimultaneousInterpretation Reveals the Neural Basis of Extreme Language Control. Cerebral Cortex, 25(12), 4727-4739.Hervais-Adelman, A., Moser-Mercer, B., & Golestani, N. (2015). Brain functional plasticity associatedwith the emergence of expertise in extreme language control. Neuroimage, 114, 264-274. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.03.072.Miyake, A., Friedman, N.P., Emerson, M.J., Witzki, A.H., Howerter, A, & Wager, T.D. (2000). Theunity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex “Frontal Lobe” tasks: alatent variable analysis. Cognitive Psychology, 41 (1), 49–100.Paap, K., & Greenberg, Z. (2013). There is no coherent evidence for a bilingual advantage inexecutive processing. Cognitive Psychology, 66, 232–258.174
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event8th EST Congress - Department of Business Communication, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Duration: 15 Sep 201617 Sep 2016


Conference8th EST Congress
Internet address


  • interpreting
  • cognitive control
  • updating


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