Balanced bilinguals favor lexical processing in their opaque language and conversion system in their shallow language

Bütler, Karin; de Leon Rodriguez, Diego; Laganaro, Marina; Müri, René Martin; Nyffeler, Thomas; Spierer, Lucas; Annoni, Jean-Marie (2015). Balanced bilinguals favor lexical processing in their opaque language and conversion system in their shallow language. Brain and language, 150, pp. 166-176. Elsevier 10.1016/j.bandl.2015.10.001

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Referred to as orthographic depth, the degree of consistency of grapheme/phoneme correspondences varies across languages from high in shallow orthographies to low in deep orthographies. The present study investigates the impact of orthographic depth on reading route by analyzing evoked potentials to words in a deep (French) and shallow (German) language presented to highly proficient bilinguals. ERP analyses to German and French words revealed significant topographic modulations 240-280ms post-stimulus onset, indicative of distinct brain networks engaged in reading over this time window. Source estimations revealed that these effects stemmed from modulations of left insular, inferior frontal and dorsolateral regions (German>French) previously associated to phonological processing. Our results show that reading in a shallow language was associated to a stronger engagement of phonological pathways than reading in a deep language. Thus, the lexical pathways favored in word reading are reinforced by phonological networks more strongly in the shallow than deep orthography.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - Gerontechnology and Rehabilitation
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR) > DCR Unit Sahli Building > Forschungsgruppe Neurologie
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Bütler, Karin; de Leon Rodriguez, Diego; Müri, René Martin and Nyffeler, Thomas


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Romina Theiler

Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2016 09:40

Last Modified:

07 Jun 2018 17:36

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Bilingual; Dual-Route Model; EEG; ERP; Grapheme–phoneme conversion; Orthographic depth; Reading; Reading strategies; Topography; Words




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