Chapter 16

Control, activation, and resource: a framework and a model for the control of speech in bilinguals

DAVID W.GREEN

ONE EXPLANATION FOR THE effects of brain damage on speech is that it destroys, or isolates, one or more of the components of the system required for intact performance. Such an explanation lacks generality. It does not account for the speech errors of normal speakers and it fails to explain certain phenomena within the clinical literature itself, such as the recovery patterns of two bilingual aphasics recently reported by Paradis et al. (1982). This chapter develops a framework which accommodates the performance of normal as well as brain-damaged individuals, and it provides a specific model of the bilingual speaker. The framework and model describe a conceptual nervous system and make no claims as to the nature of the underlying neural mechanism.

The chapter presents three main ideas. The first is that the impaired performance of aphasic patients, and of bilingual aphasics specifically, reflects a problem in controlling intact language systems. Problems of control also seem the best way of explaining the kinds of speech error observed in normal bilinguals. Hence such an idea offers a way to accommodate both normal and pathological data.

The second idea concerns how control is effected. It is assumed that speech production can be understood in the same way as skilled action in general. In particular, the selection of a word, like the selection of a particular action, involves regulating a single underlying variable of the amount of activation. Choosing an appropriate word requires ensuring that its activation exceeds that of any competitors.

The third idea is that regulation involves the use, and hence possible depletion, of the means to increase or to decrease the activation of some internal component. Most functional models of speech production ignore this energy dimension and yet we would not normally consider the description of a working

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