No coherent evidence for bilingual advantages in executive functioning

AbstractDuring both comprehension and production there is overwhelming evidence that when bilinguals are conversing in one language, lexial entries in the other language are coactivated. This point of consensus diverges to contentious debates whether general inhibitory control is recruited to resolve competition from the nontarget lexicon and if so, is this ubiqutious practice sufficient to enhance general executive functioning and to transfer to nonverbal tasks where interference effects will be smaller in bilinguals compared to monolinguals. Three recent meta-anlyses show that the bilingual-advantage effect (in inhibitory control, working memory, and switching) is very small and that when corrected for publication bias average effect sizes can be zero or negative. The meta-analyses do not include the visual search and ambiguous figures tasks that Bialystok's group has recently reported to show bilingual advantages in "selective attention". Our most recent empirical results show that bilingualism is unrelated to performance in either task.


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