Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Abstract Numerous functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have examined the neural mechanisms of negative emotional words, but scarce evidence is available for the interactions among related brain regions from the functional brain connectivity perspective. Moreover, few studies have addressed the neural networks for negative word processing in bilinguals. To fill this gap, the current study examined the brain networks for processing negative words in the first language (L1) and the second language (L2) with Chinese-English bilinguals. To identify objective indicators associated with negative word processing, we first conducted a coordinate-based meta-analysis on contrasts between negative and neutral words (including 32 contrasts from 1589 participants) using the activation likelihood estimation method. Results showed that the left medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), the left posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), the left amygdala, the left inferior temporal gyrus (ITG), and the left thalamus were involved in processing negative words. Next, these six clusters were used as regions of interest in effective connectivity analyses using extended unified structural equation modeling to pinpoint the brain networks for bilingual negative word processing. Brain network results revealed two pathways for negative word processing in L1: a dorsal pathway consisting of the left IFG, the left mPFC, and the left PCC, and a ventral pathway involving the left amygdala, the left ITG, and the left thalamus. We further investigated the similarity and difference between brain networks for negative word processing in L1 and L2. The findings revealed similarities in the dorsal pathway, as well as differences primarily in the ventral pathway, indicating both neural assimilation and accommodation across processing negative emotion in two languages of bilinguals.

Original publication




Journal article


Cerebral Cortex


Oxford University Press (OUP)

Publication Date