Interpreter Advantage in Coordination at Early Stages of Interpreting Training

Published: 29 November 2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/ffwh58f7wf.1
Fei Zhong,


We hypothesize that there may be an interpreter advantage associated with the bottleneck switching component of the coordination skill. If an advantage in coordination was to be found in the present study, the advantageous group of interpreting students would outperform in dual-task costs (the difference between dual-task and single-task conditions, with smaller costs suggesting better coordination), and the better performance would be restricted to Task 2 (suggesting bottleneck switching component of coordination). If no advantage was to be found for interpreting students, no group differences or even larger dual-task costs for these students may be obtained. Data obtained from the dual-task experiments included accuracy (ACC) and response time (RT) for Task 1 and Task 2. The four types of data were analyzed separately following the same procedure. Specifically, the dual-task costs were subjected to an ANCOVA analysis with a between-group variable of Group (Interpreting, Control for Experiment 1; More-IE, Less-IE for Experiment 2, with IE referring to interpreting training experience), and a within-group variable of Condition (dual-task_100, dual-task_150, dual-task_450, with 100, 150, 450 referring to the three SOA conditions). The covariate for Experiment 1 (the intermediate stage of interpreting training) was Mother’s education level, and that for Experiment 2 (the beginning stage) was Frequency of L2 use. The results showed that, in Experiment 1, the Interpreter group exhibited smaller dual-task costs only in Task 2 than the Control group, suggesting an interpreter advantage in coordination, especially in the bottleneck switching component at the intermediate stage of interpreting training. In Experiment 2, the More-IE group exhibited larger dual-task costs in Task 1 than the Less-IE group, suggesting a temporary setback of the coordination skill at the beginning stage of interpreting training.


Steps to reproduce

The two experiments were conducted with E-prime 2.0, which presented a Psychological Refractory Period (PRP) dual-task to the participants. The task consisted of an auditory (Task 1) and a visual (Task 2) tasks. In Task 1, participants would hear a tone whose pitch was high (3250 Hz), middle (880Hz) or low (350 Hz), and they were asked to respond to the tones respectively with the fourth finger, the middle one, and the index one of their right hand. In Task 2, they would see a white triangle whose size was large, medium or small, and they were required to make a response to the triangles respectively with the index finger, the middle one and the fourth finger of their left hand. The background of the screen was black throughout the experiment. The experiment started with a single-task block of the auditory task (i.e., only the tones were presented), and then that of the visual task (i.e., only the triangles were presented), followed by three dual-task blocks (i.e., both types of stimuli were presented). In single-task blocks, each trial began with three horizontally arranged white dashes, with the central one placed at the center of the screen. After 500 ms, a tone was presented for 50 ms, or a triangle was presented above the central dash until the end of the trial (i.e., when a response was made or when it exceeded 2500 ms after stimulus onset). In dual-task blocks, three dashes were presented first in the same way as that in the single-task blocks. Then a tone was presented for 50 ms, followed by a triangle with an SOA of 100 ms, 150 ms or 450 ms, which disappeared at the end of the trial (i.e., when a response for the triangle was made or when it exceeded 2500 ms after the onset of the triangle). The dashes remained on the screen throughout the experiment. Participants were instructed to give response priority to Task 1, and were required to make responses as accurately and quickly as they could. Each single-task block consisted of 54 trials, with 18 trials for each type of stimuli (i.e., low, middle, and high tones, or small, medium, and large triangles). Each of the three dual-task blocks consisted of 54 trials, with 18 trials for each type of stimuli at each SOA condition. In total, there were 54 trials for each task (the auditory or the visual task) in each condition (the single-task condition or the dual-task condition of different SOA). In addition, there was one practice block of nine trials before each of the single-task block, and two practice blocks of nine trials each before the dual-task blocks. Within each block, the trials were pseudo-randomly presented on the condition that the same stimulus did not appear in more than three consecutive trials. In Experiment 1, we recruited two groups of graduates majoring in interpreting, and in linguistics and literature respectively. In Experiment 2, we recruited two groups of undergraduates majoring in translation and interpreting, and in linguistics or literature respectively.


Southwestern University of Finance and Economics