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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Extent of bilingual experience in modulating young adults’ processing of social-communicative cues in a cue integration task: An eye-tracking study


This study investigated whether bilingual experience would influence young adults’ integration of multiple cues to infer a speaker’s intention. Using a cue-integration task coupled with eye-tracking, we examined the effects of balanced language usage on young bilingual adults’ ability to integrate multiple cues in determining a speaker’s referential intent. Behavioral and eye-tracking findings indicated that balanced bilinguals were better able than unbalanced bilinguals in identifying a target object in the three-cue condition (i.e., contextual, semantic and gaze cues were shown). However, there were no group differences in the two-cue condition (i.e., only contextual and semantic cues were shown). Our results suggest that the extent of bilingualism could modulate the sensitivity to and integration of multiple cues in the intention-inference process. We argue that balanced bilinguals’ greater exposure to complex communicative situations could enhance their ability in utilizing multiple cues to understand a speaker’s intention.

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