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On the consequences of bilingualism: We need language and the brain to understand cognition

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Abstract

In the last two decades there has been an explosion of research on bilingualism and its consequences for the mind and the brain (e.g., Kroll & Bialystok, 2013). One reason is that the use of two or more languages reveals interactions across cognitive and neural systems that are often obscured in monolingual speakers of a single language (e.g., Kroll, Dussias, Bogulski & Valdes Kroff, 2012). From this perspective, the interest in bilingualism is about developing a platform to ask questions about the ways that cognitive and neural networks are engaged during language use, in different learning environments, and across the lifespan. Another reason is that an emerging body of research on the consequences of bilingualism suggests that language experience changes cognition and the brain (e.g., Abutalebi, Della Rosa, Green, Hernandez, Scifo, Keim, Cappa & Costa, 2012; Bialystok, Craik, Green, & Gollan, 2009). Some of these changes have been claimed to produce cognitive advantages (see Bialystok et al., for a review of bilingual advantages and disadvantages).

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... In the keynote, I adopted a particular model of executive function (Miyake & Friedman, 2012) without any argument or review of other models. As Costa, Hernández and Calabria (2014) and Kroll (2014) point out, there are other models. My choice was not completely arbitrary: I think that Miyake and Friedman have provided the most structured analysis. ...
... I agree, but I am less sanguine than Marton that we can find a test -aside, possibly, from delay of gratificationthat measures only a single aspect of executive function. Kroll (2014) suggests that meta-executive function might be more influenced by bilingualism than are the individual components, a possibility worth further investigation. Kroll also suggests that rather than looking narrowly at the relation between bilingualism and executive function, we should focus on how mono-and bilinguals process language. ...
... The reason for my skepticism is the variability in the results to date: sometimes late second-language learners show benefits, sometimes "balanced" bilinguals don't; sometimes proficiency matters, sometimes it doesn't (as Paap, 2014 also notes). Although I have not detected generalizations that hold across experiments, I agree with Kaushanskaya and Prior (2014), Kroll (2014), Luk (2014), Mishra (2014), and Zahodne and Manly (2014) that a more systematic exploration of varieties of bilingualism will improve experimentation. Luk (2014) refers to a multi-dimensional spectrum that involves, at a minimum, how speakers' languages were acquired, how extensively they are used at present, their proficiency in each language, the social contexts in which they use each language, and so on. 1 Titone et al., (2014) and Mishra (2014) mention that effects of bilingualism may also vary depending on geography. ...
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The goal of my keynote article, “Bilingualism and Cognition” (Valian, 2015), was to resolve the inconsistencies in effects of bilingualism on executive functions, whether the individuals were children, young adults, or old people. To summarize (and sharpen) my argument: 1. Especially in children and young adults, benefits of bilingualism for executive functions are not reliable. In old people, there are benefits for executive functions but contradictory results on delay of cognitive impairment, depending on whether studies are retrospective or prospective. 2. All experiences that have benefits for executive functions and aging – and there are many – yield inconsistent effects. Bilingualism is not alone. 3. Three reasons for inconsistencies in bilingualism and other experiences are: a. Executive function and cognitive reserve are broad cover terms for a variety of mechanisms, most of which are ill-understood. Because we mean different things by ‘executive function’ from one experiment to the next, we can both think we don't have an effect when we do and think we have an effect when we don’t. b. Tasks are impure: apparently similar tasks measure different aspects of executive function and measure other aspects of cognition as well. Because we lack a good analysis of tasks, we too often do not know what we are measuring. I encourage readers to examine the demos in the supplementary materials of the keynote article to see for themselves what the tasks are like. c. Individuals engage in many different activities that may be on a par with bilingualism in their benefits. 4. Different types of bilingual experience are unlikely to explain the variability of findings, given the inconsistencies in extant data on varieties of bilingualism. 5. There is a benefit of bilingualism, but bilingualism competes with other sources of benefits. Especially for children and young adults, whose daily lives are full of cognitively enriching and challenging experiences, we should expect variability in effects of being bilingual.6. The way forward is to focus on underlying mechanisms.
... Hence, researchers have suggested that the traditional approach of measuring and comparing children's accuracy or reaction time during attention tasks is insufficient for revealing the full extent to which language acquisition and brain development processes interact to shape young bilinguals' cognitive development (Kroll, 2015). In the present study, we assessed task performance and brain activation in the prefrontal cortex using functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) in early exposed and proficient Spanish-English bilingual and English monolingual children. ...
... Importantly, both within-and cross-language distractors can impact bilingual participants' performance in this task (Marian & Spivey, 2003). Such findings exemplify not only the attentional demands in the context of language processing, but also the general notion that bilinguals' languages are often relatively co-active (Van Hell & Dijkstra, 2002;Hernandez, Li, MacWinney, 2005;Kroll, 2015). Such persistent co-activation of bilinguals' two languages is thought to create an increased demand for attentional control across various contexts of bilingual language use, from word recognition to discourse . ...
... The precise impact of bilingualism on attentional control might still be in place and easier to detect through traditional measurements of accuracy and reaction time in younger children (before age 6) or older adult populations, as these groups tend to show more variance in their speed of cognitive processing (Bialystok et al., 2012). Neuroimaging offers an additional method for gathering evidence on mental operations when assessing group differences that may or may not manifest as behavioral differences in experimental task performance (Kroll, 2015). ...
Article
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Bilingualism is a typical linguistic experience, yet relatively little is known about its impact on children’s cognitive and brain development. Theories of bilingualism suggest early dual-language acquisition can improve children’s cognitive abilities, specifically those relying on frontal lobe functioning. While behavioral findings present much conflicting evidence, little is known about its effects on children’s frontal lobe development. Using functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS), the findings suggest that Spanish-English bilingual children (n = 13, ages 7-13) had greater activation in left prefrontal cortex during a non-verbal attentional control task relative to age-matched English monolinguals. In contrast, monolinguals (n = 14) showed greater right prefrontal activation than bilinguals. The present findings suggest early bilingualism yields significant changes to the functional organization of children’s prefrontal cortex for attentional control and carry implications for understanding how early life experiences impact cognition and brain development.
... To cope with Wade's case, Kroll (2015) argues that the phenomenon could occur since two mental grammars may converge or, often, compete for one another. This is due to the changes in cognition and brain caused by the exposition to different language experiences (Kroll, 2015;Kroll & Dussias, 2017). ...
... To cope with Wade's case, Kroll (2015) argues that the phenomenon could occur since two mental grammars may converge or, often, compete for one another. This is due to the changes in cognition and brain caused by the exposition to different language experiences (Kroll, 2015;Kroll & Dussias, 2017). For example, in Wade's problem, she must be having two different language experiences that affect the improvement of her L1 or L2. ...
... When she was in America and living a life using L1, she must get more exposures to English experience than of Spanish, her L2. According to Kroll (2015), this condition gives different benefits to a language acquisition development as the language milieu more activates a language processing which is relevant to the milieu. That is when Wade lived in Mexico and fluently spoke in Spanish for six months long, she tends to still use some Spanish vocabularies or rhetoric on the first day of coming back to Washington, DC. ...
Article
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Language and cognition are interdependent elements which are currently relevant to second language acquisition issues. Learners will simultaneously acquire the thinking rhetoric carried out by a target language once they acquire the language itself. The externalization of the cognitive process can be seen from learner’s writing product or speaking performance that have been greatly investigated by numbers of researchers. The proposed problem was what happened to multilingual learner’s thinking rhetoric. Did they easily change between one language rhetorical styles to another? Or, their cognitive control mechanism was just intersected? This study aims at reviewing the concept of multilingual learner’s thinking rhetoric along with their externalizations. It is expected that this study contributes to unlocking the dilemma of learners’ cognitive problems when acquiring multilanguage and initiating further research concerning how to handle multilingual learners’ language rhetorical styles.
... Second language immersion experience changes the way students process their native language (Baus, Costa, & Carreiras, 2013). Differences in bilingual circumstances have shown to affect the resulting cognitive consequences and provide a basis for generating specific hypotheses about their source (Kroll, 2014). Kroll (2014) states that the consequences of bilingualism indicate that language experience can impact cognition and the brain. ...
... Differences in bilingual circumstances have shown to affect the resulting cognitive consequences and provide a basis for generating specific hypotheses about their source (Kroll, 2014). Kroll (2014) states that the consequences of bilingualism indicate that language experience can impact cognition and the brain. ...
... Considerable differences between individuals depend on how often they use and switch between their languages daily (Christoffels, de Haan, Steenbergen, van den Wildenberg & Colzato, 2014). Kroll (2014) states that the effects of the second language on the native language demonstrates a level of plasticity across the bilingual's two languages that hold implications for the unique consequences of bilingualism. ...
Article
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The effect of the second language on the cognition of late bilinguals is still unclear. In the field of bilingualism there is uncertainty of which circumstances benefit cognition. There is uncertainty on the impact of second language use on the cognition of late bilinguals. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the bilinguals’ perception on the effect of second language use on cognition. The phenomenological study attempted to describe the bilingualism phenomenon using the Miyake-Friedman Model. This phenomenological design helped gain more insight on the effects of being bilingual and created another hypothesis. Based on the perceptions of the participants, themes were identified, analyzed and validated by using the research literature. Six respondents participated in an anonymous survey for this study. The 3 research questions answered: What are the perceptions of the bilinguals on the impact of second language use on cognition? What are the perceptions of the bilinguals on the circumstances that impact cognition? What are the perceptions of the bilinguals on ways cognition can improve from second language use? Respondents who regularly used their second language but did not consistently use their first language had a negative impact on cognition, and executive function.The respondents who regularly used their second language and consistently used their first language experienced a positive effect on cognition, and executive function. The impact of the respondents depended on the circumstance. There was a perception that regular use of both languages can help avoid any negative consequences. The implications for regular second language users was that the positive and negative impact in bilinguals occurred based on the consistency of first language use. Cognitive impact from bilingualism was based on circumstance. Managing both languages avoided negative consequences on late bilinguals. To have a positive impact on cognition, late bilinguals must use both languages. Future recommendations should conduct studies for regular second language users, who do not consistently use the first language to get a better understanding of any negative impact on cognition and for late bilinguals who regularly use both languages to better understand the positive impact.
... For instance, an eye-tracking study revealed that Spanish-English bilinguals tended to alternate their eye-gaze when they heard a word and were presented with images in which another item's direct translation matched the phonological onset of the target, such as the target 'pool ' and 'thumb [Spanish translation: pulgar]' as the competitor (Blumenfeld & Maria, 2013;Marian & Spivey, 2003). Such findings exemplify not only the cognitive demands in bilinguals' language processing, but also the general notion that both of their languages are relatively co-active (Hernandez et al., 2005;Kroll, 2015;Van Hell & Dijkstra, 2002). ...
... During language switching tasks and when managing cross-linguistic competition, bilinguals recruit brain regions typically associated with Executive Function, including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), left fronto-parietal and caudate regions (Abutalebi & Green, 2007Luk, Green, Abutalebi, & Grady, 2012;van Heuven et al., 2008). Another plausible idea is that dual-language experiences may extend to non-linguistic Executive Function mechanisms and reorganize the functionality of brain regions supporting these processes (Green & Abutalebi, 2013;Kroll, 2015). Indeed, during a non-linguistic Executive Function (Go-NoGo) task, bilingual adults engaged left frontal regions, while monolingual adults engaged right frontal regions (Garbin et al., 2010). ...
Thesis
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Early life experiences are thought to alter children’s cognition and brain development, yet the precise nature of these changes remains largely unknown. Research has shown that bilinguals’ languages are simultaneously active, and their parallel activation imposes an increased demand for attentional mechanisms even when the intention is to use one of their languages (cf. Kroll & Bialystok, 2013). Theoretical frameworks (Adaptive Control hypothesis; Green & Abutalebi, 2013) propose that daily demands of dual-language experiences impact the organization of neural networks. To test this hypothesis, this dissertation used functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) to image brain regions in young monolingual and bilingual children (53 English monolinguals, 40 Spanish-English bilinguals; ages 7-9) while they performed a verbal attention task assessing phonological interference and a non-verbal attention task assessing attentional networks. The results did not reveal differences in behavioral performance between bilinguals and monolinguals, however, the neuroimaging findings revealed three critical differences between the groups: (i) bilingual children engaged less brain activity in left frontal regions, than monolinguals, when managing linguistic competitors in one language thus suggesting efficient processing; (ii) bilinguals showed overall greater brain activity, than monolinguals, in left fronto-parietal regions for attentional networks (i.e., alerting, orienting, and executive); and (iii) bilinguals’ brain activity in left fronto-parietal regions during the Executive attentional network was associated with better language abilities. Taken together, these findings suggest that attentional mechanisms and language processes both interact in bilinguals’ left fronto-parietal regions to impact the dynamics of brain plasticity during child development. This work informs neuro-cognitive theories on how early life experiences such as bilingualism impact brain development and plasticity.
... Others are more critical of her claims ('invisible' may not mean 'absent'), suggesting ways of detecting cognitive benefits of bilingualism that might not be apparent on the surface (e.g. Costa, Hernández & Calabria, 2014;Kroll, 2014). A number of commentators note that more sophisticated theoretical notions are required of what is meant by 'bilingualism', including attempts to understand individual differences (Kaushanskaya & Prior, 2014;Luk, 2014;Mishra, 2014;Zahodne & Manly, 2014), and by 'executive function', including the neural underpinnings of connections between executive function and bilingualism (Marton, 2014;Kroll, 2014;Titone, Pivneva, Sheikh, Webb & Whitford, 2014). ...
... Costa, Hernández & Calabria, 2014;Kroll, 2014). A number of commentators note that more sophisticated theoretical notions are required of what is meant by 'bilingualism', including attempts to understand individual differences (Kaushanskaya & Prior, 2014;Luk, 2014;Mishra, 2014;Zahodne & Manly, 2014), and by 'executive function', including the neural underpinnings of connections between executive function and bilingualism (Marton, 2014;Kroll, 2014;Titone, Pivneva, Sheikh, Webb & Whitford, 2014). In her response, Valian (2014b) acknowledges many of the qualifications pointed out by her commentators and the limitations of current research in this domain. ...
Article
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Topics in psycholinguistics and the neurocognition of language rarely attract the attention of journalists or the general public. One topic that has done so, however, is the potential benefits of bilingualism for general cognitive functioning and development, and as a precaution against cognitive decline in old age. Sensational claims have been made in the public domain, mostly by journalists and politicians. Recently (September 4, 2014) The Guardian reported that "learning a foreign language can increase the size of your brain", and Michael Gove, the UK's previous Education Secretary, noted in an interview with The Guardian (September 30, 2011) that "learning languages makes you smarter". The present issue of BLC addresses these topics by providing a state-of-the-art overview of theoretical and experimental research on the role of bilingualism for cognition in children and adults.
... Theories of bilingualism suggest that proficient bilinguals form common cognitive and neural bases to support word knowledge in both of their languages (Hernandez & Li, 2007;Kroll, 2015). These common bases should allow bilingual children to share or 'transfer' language abilities to support emergent reading abilities (Cummins, 2001). ...
... Psycholinguistic models of bilingual language processing often suggest that bilinguals form an integrated dual language lexicon (Kroll, 2015). The integrated conceptualization of the bilingual lexicon nevertheless leaves room for language-specific sublexical processes as well as language-specific factors of proficiency and the concomitant cognitive efforts for working with a low-proficiency language (van Heuven & Dijkstra, 2010). ...
Conference Paper
PURPOSE: Research in alphabetic languages has consistently reported Phonological awareness, the ability to manipulate the sounds of language, as the critical factor for reading acquisition. In contrast, studies of reading acquisition in Chinese suggest that Morphological awareness, the ability to manipulate the morphemes (smallest units of meaning), is also critical for learning to read in Chinese. Neuroimaging studies in English have shown activation in Wernicke's area during Phonological awareness and reading tasks. In contrast, neuroimaging studies in Chinese have shown activation in MFG and Broca's area during Phonological awareness and reading tasks. Together, these findings necessitate a more thorough understanding of the "universal" factors behind reading acquisition - and the neural networks that underlie reading acquisition across orthographies. To achieve this goal, we must better understand the brain bases of auditory language skills important for reading acquisition across different orthographies. QUESTION: What are the brain bases of auditory Morphological awareness in Chinese? METHODS: Bilingual Chinese-English children (ages 6-12, n=12) completed auditory tasks of Morphological Awareness in fMRI. RESULTS & CONCLUSIONS: The auditory Morphological awareness in Chinese elicited activation throughout the "Reading Brain" network - including left MFG, IFG, STG and Parietal. Like a "silver bullet", this auditory language task permeated through what has been considered "Phonological awareness" as well as the "Chinese literacy" brain regions. We suggest that a single set of language skills underlies all reading acquisition - though it may manifest differently across languages. Yet, further inquiry is necessary with monolingual Chinese readers with and without dyslexia.
... Theories of bilingualism suggest that proficient bilinguals form common cognitive and neural bases to support word knowledge in both of their languages (Hernandez & Li, 2007;Kroll, 2015). These common bases should allow bilingual children to share or 'transfer' language abilities to support emergent reading abilities (Cummins, 2001). ...
... Psycholinguistic models of bilingual language processing often suggest that bilinguals form an integrated dual language lexicon (Kroll, 2015). The integrated conceptualization of the bilingual lexicon nevertheless leaves room for language-specific sublexical processes as well as language-specific factors of proficiency and the concomitant cognitive efforts for working with a low-proficiency language (van Heuven & Dijkstra, 2010). ...
... Previous studies claim that bilinguals exhibit more efficient cognitive processes than monolinguals [1,2]. In fact, abundant research has concluded that bilingual speakers, at specific ages and throughout the lifespan, possess enhanced executive functioning skills when compared to monolinguals [1][2][3]. Attentional control has been proposed to be the component of executive functioning responsible for this cognitive advantage in bilinguals. This component is the ability to focus on important aspects of a task, overcoming irrelevant distractions [4][5][6]. ...
... Thus, it is possible that this challenging version of the task was more effective in allowing us to detect the differences in performance between the two language groups. A possible source of these effects is the fact that bilinguals" two languages are permanently activated in the brain requiring them to focus on the target language and disregard the irrelevant language"s cues in order to produce speech [1,3,5,6,24]. Although the VFT is well known for observing attentional control at different levels, it is difficult to disregard other dimensions of executive function involved during this task such as shifting, working memory, and organisation [5,[25][26][27]. ...
... Theories of bilingualism suggest that proficient bilinguals form common cognitive and neural bases to support word knowledge in both of their languages (Hernandez & Li, 2007;Kroll, 2015). These common bases should allow bilingual children to share or 'transfer' language abilities to support emergent reading abilities (Cummins, 2001). ...
... Psycholinguistic models of bilingual language processing often suggest that bilinguals form an integrated dual language lexicon (Kroll, 2015). The integrated conceptualization of the bilingual lexicon nevertheless leaves room for language-specific sublexical processes as well as language-specific factors of proficiency and the concomitant cognitive efforts for working with a low-proficiency language (van Heuven & Dijkstra, 2010). ...
Article
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Can bilingual exposure impact children's neural circuitry for learning to read? To answer this question, we investigated the brain bases of morphological awareness, one of the key spoken language abilities for learning to read in English and Chinese. Bilingual Chinese-English and monolingual English children (N = 22, ages 7–12) completed morphological tasks that best characterize each of their languages: compound morphology in Chinese (e.g. basket + ball = basketball) and derivational morphology in English (e.g. re + do = redo). In contrast to monolinguals, bilinguals showed greater activation in the left middle temporal region, suggesting that bilingual exposure to Chinese impacts the functionality of brain regions supporting semantic abilities. Similar to monolinguals, bilinguals showed greater activation in the left inferior frontal region [BA 45] in English than Chinese, suggesting that young bilinguals form language-specific neural representations. The findings offer new insights to inform bilingual and cross-linguistic models of language and literacy acquisition.
... There is a growing understanding in the literature that bilingualism is not a zero-one phenomenon: it is a multifaceted experience, and each aspect should be treated as a continuous rather than binary variable (Antoniou, 2019;Kroll, 2015;Luk, 2015;Luk & Bialystok, 2013;Luk & Esposito, 2020). The fact that the bilingual experience is complex (Grosjean, Grosjean & Li, 2013) makes investigations of bilingualism both fascinating and challenging. ...
Article
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The multidimensionality of the bilingual experience makes the investigation of bilingualism fascinating but also challenging. Although the literature distinguishes several aspects of bilingualism, the measurement methods and the relationships between these aspects have not been clearly established. In a group of 171 relatively young Polish–English bilinguals living in their first-language environment, this study investigates the relationships between the multiple measures of bilingualism. The study shows that language entropy – an increasingly popular measure of the diversity of language use – reflects a separate aspect of the bilingual experience from language-switching and language-mixing measures. The findings also indicate that language proficiency is not a uniform aspect of the bilingual experience but a complex construct that requires appropriately comprehensive measurements. Collectively, the findings contribute to the discussion on the best practices for quantifying bilingualism.
... Given our finding of bilingual advantages in the orienting network-which were absent in Costa and colleagues' (2008) study-a different aspect of bilingualism (e.g., different language pairs, varying degrees of bilingual proficiency, frequency of language use, switching demands), which in turn leads to adaptively varied control levels, could have affected the results of three local networks in the attention system (for reviews, see Green & Abutalebi, 2013;Kroll, 2015;Luk, 2015;Yang & Yang, 2013). For instance, orthographic differences between the two language families (e.g., Indo-European [Spanish, Catalan, and English] vs. Altaic [Korean]) could have an independent effect on the two bilingual groups' visuospatial analysis abilities, particularly for adults whose knowledge of print is more extensive than that of children. ...
Article
We investigated the impact of early childhood and adulthood bilingualism on the attention system in a group of linguistically and culturally homogeneous children (5- and 6-year olds) and young adults. We administered the child Attention Network Test (ANT) to 63 English monolingual and Korean-English bilingual children and administered the adult ANT to 39 language- and culture-matched college students. Advantageous bilingual effects on attention were observed for both children and adults in global processing levels of inverse efficiency, response time, and accuracy at a magnitude more pronounced for children than for adults. Differential bilingualism effects were evident at the local network level of executive control and orienting in favor of the adult bilinguals only. Notably, however, bilingual children achieved an adult level of accuracy in the incongruent flanker condition, implying enhanced attentional skills to cope with interferences. Our findings suggest that although both child and adult bilinguals share cognitive advantages in attentional functioning, age-related cognitive and linguistic maturation differentially shapes the outcomes of attentional processing at a local network level.
... Firstly, one has to acknowledge the pioneering role played in this research by the Toronto group led by Ellen Bialystok: as mentioned earlier, also the first person to have recognised the association between bilingualism and a later onset of dementia (Bialystok et al., 2007). But secondly, and equally importantly, cognitive effects of bilingualism have meanwhile been confirmed by many other research groups, from California (Gollan et al., 2011) through Kentucky (Gold, Kim, Johnson, Kryscio, & Smith, 2013) to Pennsylvania (Kroll, 2015), from Spain (Costa et al., 2009) and Italy (Abutalebi et al., 2011), through the Benelux countries (Perquin et al., 2013;Woumans et al., 2014) to Scotland and, more recently, also in countries outside the Western World, such as India (Alladi et al., 2013) and China (Zou et al., 2012). ...
Article
Within the current debates on cognitive reserve, cognitive aging and dementia, showing increasingly a positive effect of mental, social and physical activities on health in older age, bilingualism remains one of the most controversial issues. Some reasons for it might be social or even ideological. However, one of the most important genuine problems facing bilingualism research is the high number of potential confounding variables. Bilingual communities often differ from monolingual ones in a range of genetic and environmental variables. In addition, within the same population, bilingual individuals could be different from the outset from those who remain monolingual. We discuss the most common confounding variables in the study of bilingualism, aging and dementia, such as group heterogeneity, migration, social factors, differences in general intelligence and the related issue of reverse causality. We describe different ways in which they can be minimized by the choice of the studied populations and the collected data. In this way, the emerging picture of the interaction between bilingualism and cognitive aging becomes more complex, but also more convincing.
... Given our finding of bilingual advantages in the orienting network-which were absent in Costa and colleagues ' (2008) study-a different aspect of bilingualism (e.g., different language pairs, varying degrees of bilingual proficiency, frequency of language use, switching demands), which in turn leads to adaptively varied control levels, could have affected the results of three local networks in the attention system (for reviews, see Green & Abutalebi, 2013;Kroll, 2015;Luk, 2015;Yang & Yang, 2013). For instance, orthographic differences between the two language families (e.g., Indo-European [Spanish, Catalan, and English] vs. Altaic [Korean]) could have an independent effect on the two bilingual groups' visuospatial analysis abilities, particularly for adults whose knowledge of print is more extensive than that of children. ...
... The mechanisms by which bilingualism can slow the progress of neurodegenerative disease remain speculative [32,33] . An influential model for understanding what happens in the bilingual brain is the adaptive cognitive hypothesis [34] , which argues that the demands of choosing between two languages in vocabulary and in syntax mold neural networks in such a way as to benefit cognition. ...
Article
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Although a bilingual advantage has been described for neurodegenerative disease in general, it is not known whether such an advantage could accrue to individuals suffering from schizophrenia, since language networks are known to be disrupted in this condition. The aim of this minireview was to scan the existing literature to determine: (1) whether individuals with schizophrenia are able to learn a second language as adults; (2) whether clinical assessment, both for the purpose of accurate diagnosis and for the prediction of treatment response, should be carried out in both languages in bilinguals with schizophrenia; (3) whether psychotherapy in schizophrenia is affected by bilingualism; and (4) whether speaking a second language improves outcome in schizophrenia. The literature to date is too sparse to make definitive statements, but: (1) individuals with schizophrenia appear to be capable of learning a new languages as adults; and (2) it is possible that teaching a foreign language may serve as a form of cognitive rehabilitation for this condition. This literature review recommends research into the effects of bilingualism on the outcome of schizophrenia. Included in this review is a retrospective pilot study conducted in Canada, which suggests that employment opportunities for patients with schizophrenia are improved when they speak more than one language. This is important to note because employment is generally problematic in the context of schizophrenia while, at the same time, the ability to obtain work contributes significantly to quality of life.
... 1. the 'whole mind' perspective 2. the 'mind/brain' perspective Expressing the whole mind perspective, Thierry, a neurolinguist, writes as follows: 'The time has come, perhaps, to go beyond merely acknowledging that language is a core manifestation of the workings of the human mind and that it relates interactively to all aspects of thinking' (Thierry 2016). The second, mind/brain perspective is expressed by Kroll, a psycholinguist looks in the other direction: 'Understanding how different aspects of language processing will engage cognitive and neural processes will be crucial' (Kroll 2015). Although not a necessary implication, I choose to interpret these sentiments as an implicit plea for a facilitating framework of some kind. ...
Chapter
In this chapter, I present a processing-based 'working model' of the mind based on research findings across a range of disciplines within cognitive science. The inclusion of processing considerations should not obscure the fact that representational and processing explanations are integrated within this model, or more properly, within this theoretical 'framework'. The makes it an extension of theoretical linguistic explanations for changes in the way a language is represented in the mind of an individual. It also runs counter to the current and, in present terms, entirely misguided tendency to see representations and processing routines as entirely separate. phenomena Where research deals with acquisition or acquisition real time, as is the case with developmental linguistics, only an integrated view makes sense. A representation existing in the mind of a specific individual engaged in language-related activity is a particular combination of structural and processing properties. These can change together over time and in different ways: you cannot consider one without considering the other. The role of language is interpreted, in line with the generative enterprise, as being dependent on a uniquely human, biologically endowed linguistic ability. Language ability in its broadest sense both depends on this core ability but is actually much more extensive involving many parts of the mind that have other unrelated functions. Any unifying framework that encompasses all these aspects will need incorporate much more than an abstract account of linguistic structure divorced from time and space considerations. The manner in which its theoretical insights are formulated out for internal theoretical purposes will not be a reliable and complete guide when working out the nature of those mechanisms responsible for online processing, storage and development. The underlying aim is, accordingly, to integrate theoretical linguistic accounts with current explanations of how the mind processes and stores mental representations of any kind. This has also to be done in a way that is in tune with and can supplement work in current neuroscience. In this chapter, I will present a processing-based 'working model' of the mind based on research findings across a range of disciplines within cognitive science. The inclusion of processing considerations should not obscure the fact that representational and processing explanations are integrated within this model, or more properly, within this theoretical 'framework'. The makes it an extension of theoretical linguistic explanations for changes in the way a language is represented in the mind of an individual. It also runs counter to the current and, in present terms, entirely misguided tendency to see representations and processing routines as entirely separate. phenomena Where research deals with acquisition or acquisition real time, as is the case with developmental linguistics, only an integrated view makes sense. A representation existing in the mind of a specific individual engaged in language-related activity is a particular combination of structural and processing properties. These can change together over time and in different ways: you cannot consider one without considering the other. The role of language is interpreted, in line with the generative enterprise, as being dependent on a uniquely human, biologically endowed linguistic ability. Language ability in its broadest sense both depends on this core ability but is actually much more extensive involving many parts of the mind that have other unrelated functions. Any unifying framework that encompasses all these aspects will need incorporate much more than an abstract account of linguistic structure divorced from time and space considerations. The manner in which its theoretical insights are formulated out for internal theoretical purposes will not be a reliable and complete guide when working out the nature of those mechanisms responsible for online processing, storage and development The underlying aim is, accordingly, to integrate theoretical linguistic accounts with current explanations of how the mind processes and stores mental representations of any kind. This has also to be done in a way that is in tune with and can supplement work in current neuroscience. The case of grammatical gender is selected as a way of illistrating the arguments presented.
... Even though some previous behaviors studies taking children as participants proved the bilingual advantage hypothesis on attentional control tasks [6], whereas inconsistent findings of non-benefit also emerge now [7]. Consequently, measuring and comparing children's accuracy and reaction time on attentional control tasks by traditional research methods can not fully reveal the interaction between second language learning and brain natural development with young bilingual's cognitive development [8]. ...
Conference Paper
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The exploration concerning effect of bilingualism on cognitive performance has been enriched in recently studies. However, scarce research focused on its impact on the brain function, especially in non-proficient bilingual children. In the present study, both Chinese monolingual and English as a foreign language (EFL) bilingual children were conducted to a non-verbal attentional network task (ANT) by functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) technique for exploring the consequence of English learning experience on young children's prefrontal regions of functioning attentional control. The behavior results showed that young EFL bilinguals outperformed monolinguals on the accuracy of ANT conflict condition. Furthermore, EFL bilingual children had higher activation in the left prefrontal cortex (inferior frontal gyrus and dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex) than counterpart monolinguals. More interestingly, the degree of bilingual language balance positively correlated with that behavior accuracy and brain activation in bilingual group. These findings provided additional support for the bilingual advantage hypothesis and illustrated implications for understanding how foreign language learning impact children's brain development.
... Guo & Peng (2006) believed that bilinguals have two sets of language systems and they can choose target languages according to the context. Bilinguals were never completely separated from another language when using one language (Hoshino & Thierry, 2011;Kroll & Bialystok, 2013;Kroll & Judith, 2015). According to Hilchey & Klein (2011), cognitive differences exist between bilinguals and monolinguals. ...
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... Furthermore, the rapid development of neuroimaging technologies -i.e., event-related potential (ERP), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), etc., -has made it possible to depict the relative contribution of bilingual experience to the brain and mind (Kroll, 2015;García-Pentón et al., 2016). Using those new techniques, emerging studies have found some general frameworks for the bilingual effect on neural architecture from the perspectives of both functional reorganization (Abutalebi and Green, 2007;Arredondo et al., 2019b;Li et al., 2019) and structural restructuration, such as gray matter density (Mechelli et al., 2004), white matter integrity (Mohades et al., 2015), and cortical thickness (Klein et al., 2014). ...
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Acquiring a second language (L2) has the power to shape cognition and even the function and structure of the brain. Picture-book reading with additive audio (PRA) is a popular and convenient means of providing L2 exposure for non-balanced bilingual children; however, its contribution to bilingual children’s brain activity is unclear. This study conducted a rigorous bilingual word comprehension experiment and a naturalistic PRA task to explore the effect of L2 processing on brain activation among English as a foreign language (EFL) preschoolers, using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). We found that the two contexts of comprehending English words and bilingual switching (BS), which impose more cognitive control demands, activated the prefrontal cortex (PFC) more than did the condition of comprehending Chinese words. Furthermore, the effect of PFC activity in the condition of picture-book reading with additive English audio (English PRA) was also found to be greater than in the condition of picture-book reading with additive Chinese audio (Chinese PRA); moreover, the effect was modulated by story difficulty. Finally, a positive correlation was shown between EFL children’s English competence and PFC activation through English PRA. This study indicates that the experiences of hearing L2 auditory stories in a picture-book reading activity yielded significant changes to early bilinguals’ PFC functional for cognitive control and language processing.
... She found that both groups of L2 learners showed an increasing preference for L2-based strategies in processing L1 sentences as their L2 proficiency increased. Similar evidence has been accumulating to show that learning a second language might change the perception and production of the bilingual's first language (Cook, 2003;Javis & Pavlenko, 2008;Kecskes & Papp, 2000;Kroll, 2015;Van Hell & Dijkstra, 2002). Cook, Iarossi, Stellakis, & Tokumaru (2003) found in bilinguals in the L1 environment that cues to the processing of L1 word order change when another language is known. ...
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Chapter
This chapter provides a detailed analysis of different types of metaphors that have been used in academic discourse to explain how different languages coexist and interact in a bilingual’s brain. These metaphors can be mainly related to three source domains: war in the first half of the twentieth century, and later sports and business competition. These different source domains can be schematically reduced to the notion of contentious activities between two parties. The contention metaphor scheme is not only ubiquitous in discourse on the effects of bilingualism on cognition, but even constitutive for theories proposed to explain the bilingual advantage or disadvantage. In line with our everyday understanding of these activities, war has disastrous consequences for the people involved, while sports and business competition are associated with enhanced performance of competitors. Thus, the idea that being bilingual entails conflict and/or competition between languages is consistent throughout the entire investigation period, while it receives different interpretations at different moments in time, leading to either negative or positive evaluations.
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A series of discoveries in the last two decades has changed the way we think about bilingualism and its implications for language and cognition. One is that both languages are always active. The parallel activation of the two languages is thought to give rise to competition that imposes demands on the bilingual to control the language not in use to achieve fluency in the target language. The second is that there are consequences of bilingualism that affect the native as well as the second language. The native language changes in response to second language use. The third is that the consequences of bilingualism are not limited to language but appear to reflect a reorganization of brain networks that hold implications for the ways in which bilinguals negotiate cognitive competition more generally. The focus of recent research on bilingualism has been to understand the relation between these discoveries and the implications they hold for language, cognition, and the brain across the lifespan.
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Mastering two languages has been associated with enhancement in human executive control, but previous studies of this phenomenon have exclusively relied on comparisons between bilingual and monolingual individuals. In the present study, we tested a single group of Welsh-English bilinguals engaged in a nonverbal conflict resolution task and manipulated language context by intermittently presenting words in Welsh, English, or both languages. Surprisingly, participants showed enhanced executive capacity to resolve interference when exposed to a mixed compared with a single language context, even though they ignored the irrelevant contextual words. This result was supported by greater response accuracy and reduced amplitude of the P300, an electrophysiological correlate of cognitive interference. Our findings introduce a new level of plasticity in bilingual executive control dependent on fast changing language context rather than long-term language experience.
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The regular use of two languages by bilingual individuals has been shown to have a broad impact on language and cognitive functioning. In this monograph, we consider four aspects of this influence. In the first section, we examine differences between mono-linguals and bilinguals in children's acquisition of language and adults' linguistic processing, particularly in terms of lexical retrieval. Children learning two languages from birth follow the same milestones for language acquisition as mono-linguals do (first words, first use of grammar) but may use different strategies for language acquisition, and they generally have a smaller vocabulary in each language than do monolin-gual children learning only a single language. Adult bilinguals typically take longer to retrieve individual words than monolin-guals do, and they generate fewer words when asked to satisfy a constraint such as category membership or initial letter. In the second section, we consider the impact of bilingualism on nonverbal cognitive processing in both children and adults. The primary effect in this case is the enhancement of executive control functions in bilinguals. On tasks that require inhibition of distract-ing information, switching between tasks, or holding information in mind while performing a task, bilinguals of all ages outperform comparable monolinguals. A plausible reason is that bilinguals recruit control processes to manage their ongoing linguistic per-formance and that these control processes become enhanced for other unrelated aspects of cognitive processing. Preliminary evi-dence also suggests that the executive control advantage may even mitigate cognitive decline in older age and contribute to cognitive reserve, which in turn may postpone Alzheimer's disease. In the third section, we describe the brain networks that are responsible for language processing in bilinguals and demon-strate their involvement in nonverbal executive control for bilinguals. We begin by reviewing neuroimaging research that identifies the networks used for various nonverbal executive control tasks in the literature. These networks are used as a ref-erence point to interpret the way in which bilinguals perform both verbal and nonverbal control tasks. The results show that bilinguals manage attention to their two language systems using the same networks that are used by monolinguals performing nonverbal tasks. In the fourth section, we discuss the special circumstances that surround the referral of bilingual children (e.g., language delays) and adults (e.g., stroke) for clinical intervention. These referrals are typically based on standardized assessments that use normative data from monolingual populations, such as vocabulary size and lexical retrieval. As we have seen, however, these measures are often different for bilinguals, both for children and adults. We discuss the implications of these linguistic differences for standardized test performance and clinical approaches. We conclude by considering some questions that have important public policy implications. What are the pros and cons of French or Spanish immersion educational programs, for example? Also, if bilingualism confers advantages in certain respects, how about three languages—do the benefits increase? In the healthcare field, how can current knowledge help in the treatment of bilingual aphasia patients following stroke? Given the recent increase in bilingualism as a research topic, answers to these and other related questions should be available in the near future.
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Monitoring and controlling 2 language systems is fundamental to language use in bilinguals. Here, we reveal in a combined functional (event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging) and structural neuroimaging (voxel-based morphometry) study that dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a structure tightly bound to domain-general executive control functions, is a common locus for language control and resolving nonverbal conflict. We also show an experience-dependent effect in the same region: Bilinguals use this structure more efficiently than monolinguals to monitor nonlinguistic cognitive conflicts. They adapted better to conflicting situations showing less ACC activity while outperforming monolinguals. Importantly, for bilinguals, brain activity in the ACC, as well as behavioral measures, also correlated positively with local gray matter volume. These results suggest that early learning and lifelong practice of 2 languages exert a strong impact upon human neocortical development. The bilingual brain adapts better to resolve cognitive conflicts in domain-general cognitive tasks.
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Adult second-language (L2) learning is often claimed to be slow and laborious compared to native language (L1) acquisition, but little is known about the rate of L2 word learning. Here we report that adult second-language learners' brain activity, as measured by event-related potentials (ERPs), discriminated between L2 words and L2 'pseudowords' (word-like letter strings) after just 14 h of classroom instruction. This occurred even while the learners performed at chance levels when making overt L2 word-nonword judgments, indicating that the early acquisition of some aspects of a new language may be overlooked by current behavioral assessments.
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Psycholinguistics has traditionally focused on language processing in monolingual speakers. In the past two decades, there has been a dramatic increase of research on bilingual speakers, recognizing that bilingualism is not an unusual or problematic circumstance but one that characterizes more language speakers in the world than monolingualism. Most critically, cognitive scientists and neuroscientists have come to see that understanding the way that bilinguals negotiate the presence of two languages in the mind and brain may reveal processes that are otherwise obscured in monolingual speakers. In this chapter, we review the new research on language processing in bilinguals. Our starting point is the observation that both languages are active when bilinguals intend to use one language alone. The parallel activation of the two languages creates competition across the two languages, which renders the bilingual a mental juggler. Surprisingly, the resolution of cross-language competition imposes relatively few processing costs to bilinguals because they appear to develop a high level of cognitive control that permits them to switch between the two languages and, at the same time, effectively select the intended language with few errors. The expertise that bilinguals develop in juggling the two languages has consequences for language processing, because both the native and second languages change as bilingual skill is acquired, and also for domain general cognitive processes, with the result that executive function is enhanced in bilinguals relative to monolinguals. We suggest that recent research on language and cognitive processing in bilinguals requires important revisions to models of language processing based on monolingual speakers alone. In this way, bilingualism is not only an interesting phenomenon in its own right, but an important tool for cognitive and language scientists.
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Contemporary research on bilingualism has been framed by two major discoveries. In the realm of language processing, studies of comprehension and production show that bilinguals activate information about both languages when using one language alone. Parallel activation of the two languages has been demonstrated for highly proficient bilinguals as well as second language learners and appears to be present even when distinct properties of the languages themselves might be sufficient to bias attention towards the language in use. In the realm of cognitive processing, studies of executive function have demonstrated a bilingual advantage, with bilinguals outperforming their monolingual counterparts on tasks that require ignoring irrelevant information, task switching, and resolving conflict. Our claim is that these outcomes are related and have the overall effect of changing the way that both cognitive and linguistic processing are carried out for bilinguals. In this article we consider each of these domains of bilingual performance and consider the kinds of evidence needed to support this view. We argue that the tendency to consider bilingualism as a unitary phenomenon explained in terms of simple component processes has created a set of apparent controversies that masks the richness of the central finding in this work: the adult mind and brain are open to experience in ways that create profound consequences for both language and cognition.
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Bilingual experience is dynamic and poses a challenge for researchers to develop instruments that capture its relevant dimensions. The present study examined responses from a questionnaire administered to 110 heterogeneous bilingual young adults. These questions concern participants' language use, acquisition history and self-reported proficiency. The questionnaire responses and performances on standardized English proficiency measures were analyzed using factor analysis. In order to retain a realistic representation of bilingual experience, the factors were allowed to correlate with each other in the analysis. Two correlating factors were extracted, representing daily bilingual usage and English proficiency. These two factors were also related to self-rated proficiency in English and non-English language. Results were interpreted as supporting the notion that bilingual experience is composed of multiple related dimensions that will need to be considered in assessments of the consequences of bilingualism.
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Growing evidence shows that executive functioning benefits from bilingual experience. However, the nature of the mechanisms underlying this advantage remains to be clarified. While some have put forward single process accounts to explain the superior performance of bilinguals relative to monolinguals in executive control tasks, recent findings have been interpreted by considering the dynamic combination of monitoring and inhibitory processes to overcome interference from distracter information. In the present study we explored this idea by comparing monolinguals and highly proficient bilinguals in the AX-CPT. This task requires individuals to adjust proactive (monitoring) and reactive (inhibition) control to achieve efficient performance. We also examined the extent to which a well-known index of inhibitory capacity, the stop-signal reaction time, predicts accuracy in the AX-CPT. Results showed that bilinguals outperformed monolinguals in the experimental condition where higher requirement of proactive-reactive control adjustment was required. Interestingly, the inhibition index predicted errors in this condition only in the sample of bilinguals. These findings suggest that a better understanding of the cognitive benefits of bilingualism may require consideration of how bilinguals adjust different executive control mechanisms to cope with interference.
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A core component of cognitive control - the ability to regulate thoughts and actions in accordance with internally represented behavioral goals - might be its intrinsic variability. In this article, I describe the dual mechanisms of control (DMC) framework, which postulates that this variability might arise from qualitative distinctions in temporal dynamics between proactive and reactive modes of control. Proactive control reflects the sustained and anticipatory maintenance of goal-relevant information within lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) to enable optimal cognitive performance, whereas reactive control reflects transient stimulus-driven goal reactivation that recruits lateral PFC (plus a wider brain network) based on interference demands or episodic associations. I summarize recent research that demonstrates how the DMC framework provides a coherent explanation of three sources of cognitive control variation - intra-individual, inter-individual and between-groups - in terms of proactive versus reactive control biases.
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Bilinguals have been shown to outperform monolinguals at suppressing task-irrelevant information. The present study aimed to identify how processing linguistic ambiguity during auditory comprehension may be associated with inhibitory control. Monolinguals and bilinguals listened to words in their native language (English) and identified them among four pictures while their eye-movements were tracked. Each target picture (e.g., hamper) appeared together with a similar-sounding within-language competitor picture (e.g., hammer) and two neutral pictures. Following each eye-tracking trial, priming probe trials indexed residual activation of target words, and residual inhibition of competitor words. Eye-tracking showed similar within-language competition across groups; priming showed stronger competitor inhibition in monolinguals than in bilinguals, suggesting differences in how inhibitory control was used to resolve within-language competition. Notably, correlation analyses revealed that inhibition performance on a nonlinguistic Stroop task was related to linguistic competition resolution in bilinguals but not in monolinguals. Together, monolingual-bilingual comparisons suggest that cognitive control mechanisms can be shaped by linguistic experience.
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Although anecdotally there appear to be differences in the way native speakers use and comprehend their native language, most empirical investigations of language processing study university students and none have studied differences in language proficiency, which may be independent of resource limitations such as working memory span. We examined differences in language proficiency in adult monolingual native speakers of English using an ERP paradigm. ERPs were recorded to insertion phrase structure violations in naturally spoken English sentences. Participants recruited from a wide spectrum of society were given standardized measures of English language proficiency, and two complementary ERP analyses were performed. In between-groups analyses, participants were divided on the basis of standardized proficiency scores into lower proficiency and higher proficiency groups. Compared with lower proficiency participants, higher proficiency participants showed an early anterior negativity that was more focal, both spatially and temporally, and a larger and more widely distributed positivity (P600) to violations. In correlational analyses, we used a wide spectrum of proficiency scores to examine the degree to which individual proficiency scores correlated with individual neural responses to syntactic violations in regions and time windows identified in the between-groups analyses. This approach also used partial correlation analyses to control for possible confounding variables. These analyses provided evidence for the effects of proficiency that converged with the between-groups analyses. These results suggest that adult monolingual native speakers of English who vary in language proficiency differ in the recruitment of syntactic processes that are hypothesized to be at least in part automatic as well as of those thought to be more controlled. These results also suggest that to fully characterize neural organization for language in native speakers it is necessary to include participants of varying proficiency.
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We report two experiments exploring more in detail the bilingual advantage in conflict resolution tasks. In particular, we focus on the origin of the bilingual advantage on overall reaction times in the flanker task. Bilingual and monolingual participants were asked to perform a flanker task under different task versions. In Experiment 1, we used two low-monitoring versions where most of the trials were of just one type (either congruent or incongruent). In Experiment 2, we used two high-monitoring versions where congruent and incongruent trials were more evenly distributed. An effect of bilingualism in overall reaction times was only present in the high-monitoring condition. These results reveal that when the task at hand recruits a good deal of monitoring resources, bilinguals outperform monolinguals. This observation suggests that bilingualism may affect the monitoring processes involved in executive control.
Article
Bilinguals often outperform monolinguals on nonverbal tasks that require resolving conflict from competing alternatives. The regular need to select a target language is argued to enhance executive control. We investigated whether this enhancement stems from a general effect of bilingualism (the representation of two languages) or from a modality constraint that forces language selection. Bimodal bilinguals can, but do not always, sign and speak at the same time. Their two languages involve distinct motor and perceptual systems, leading to weaker demands on language control. We compared the performance of 15 monolinguals, 15 bimodal bilinguals, and 15 unimodal bilinguals on a set of flanker tasks. There were no group differences in accuracy, but unimodal bilinguals were faster than the other groups; bimodal bilinguals did not differ from monolinguals. These results trace the bilingual advantage in cognitive control to the unimodal bilingual's experience controlling two languages in the same modality.
  • V Valian
Valian, V. (2014). Bilingualism and cognition.
Lifelong bilingualism maintains neural efficiency for cognitive control in aging
  • B T Gold
  • C Kim
  • N F Johnson
  • R J Kriscio
  • C D Smith
Gold, B. T., Kim, C., Johnson, N. F., Kriscio, R. J., & Smith, C. D. (2013). Lifelong bilingualism maintains neural efficiency for cognitive control in aging. Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 387-396.