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The effects of bilingualism on efficiency and lateralization of attentional networks*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 October 2012

Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Military Rehabilitation Centre Slapy, Slapy, Czech Republic & Clinic of Addictology, General University Hospital and Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Address for correspondence: Anna Marzecová, Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University, Al. Mickiewicza 3, 31-120 Kraków,


The present study investigated the impact of bilingualism on efficiency of alerting, orienting and executive attention by means of the Lateralized Attention Network Test (LANT). Young adult bilinguals who had been exposed to their second language before the age of four years showed a reduced conflict cost and a larger alerting effect in terms of response time (RT), while no difference between bilinguals and monolinguals was observed in overall RT. Bilinguals also outperformed monolinguals on accuracy in both conflict and non-conflict trials, though the effect in the latter condition was very small. Moreover, while a left visual field advantage for accuracy of conflict resolution was present in the monolingual group, bilinguals did not show the asymmetry. The findings suggest that bilingualism enhances the efficiency of executive network while reducing its lateralization. The larger alerting effect in bilinguals is hypothesized to be related to bilinguals’ more efficient executive control, which may support processes of response anticipation or temporal orienting.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012 

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We would like to thank Juan Lupiáñez, the anonymous reviewer, and the editor, David Green, for their many constructive comments and suggestions. We also acknowledge all participants. Anna Marzecová and Zofia Wodniecka were supported by a subsidy from the Foundation for Polish Science awarded to Zofia Wodniecka (FOCUS program).


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