The source of enhanced cognitive control in bilinguals: Evidence from bimodal bilinguals.

Citation:

Emmorey, K., Luk, G., Pyers, J. E., & Bialystok, E. (2008). The source of enhanced cognitive control in bilinguals: Evidence from bimodal bilinguals. Psychological Science , 19, 1201-1206. Copy at http://j.mp/2oSJzai

Abstract:

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.

Last updated on 08/29/2012