Semantic Representations in Monolingual and Bilingual Connectionist Networks

Volume 16
Issue 3
Nicholas Rendell & Eddy J. Davelaar
Repeated practice of inhibitory processes in bilinguals leads to an advantage in tasks requiring control processes. This advantage has been postulated to contribute to cognitive reserve as an offset to age and dementia related decline. Two models are presented which have learned the names of a series of pictures belonging to two categories. The first model learned the names of both categories in a single language, the second in two languages. In line with the dopamine hypothesis, change in gain of the log-sigmoidal transfer function was applied to provide a valid age related change. The results demonstrated greater separation of representations for monolinguals than for bilinguals. This occurred both for individual representations within a category and between categories. Furthermore, an interaction between brain reserve capacity, a biological category of cognitive reserve, and whether or not the model was bilingual or monolingual was observed for measures of separation. The results are discussed in terms of retrieval induced inhibition which suggest that the closer representations are to each other, the greater the recruitment of inhibitory processes.

Keywords: Ageing, Connectionist Model, Language, Bilingualism, Cognitive Reserve