Novel Evidence for the Bilingual Advantage: Effects of Language Control on Executive Function in Balanced and Unbalanced Dual-Language Users

Abstract

Bilinguals’ need to monitor and inhibit non-relevant languages over a relevant one confers advantage in cognitive control. No studies have demonstrated that the dual-language control process directly contributes to the bilingual cognitive advantage. We utilized a novel language control manipulation paradigm where 83 English-Chinese bilingual adults completed a reading and comprehension task in either single-language (low-language-control) or dual-language (high-language-control) prior to performing nonverbal executive control tasks (Stroop, task-switching, and n-back). Results showed that language control had significant effects on subsequent cognitive performance, depending on whether the participants were regular dual language users or not. In the dual-language condition, but not the single-language condition, participants who used both languages regularly demonstrated a smaller mixing cost in task-switching and a greater sensitivity in n-back detection compared to participants who did not. This suggests that dual language control utilizes similar resources as executive function and frequent dual language use enhances this resource.


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