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The influence of language-switching experience on the bilingual executive control advantage*


In an ongoing debate, bilingual research currently discusses whether bilingualism enhances non-linguistic executive control. The goal of this study was to investigate the influence of language-switching experience, rather than language proficiency, on this bilingual executive control advantage. We compared the performance of unbalanced bilinguals, balanced non-switching, and balanced switching bilinguals on two executive control tasks, i.e. a flanker and a Simon task. We found that the balanced switching bilinguals outperformed both other groups in terms of executive control performance, whereas the unbalanced and balanced non-switching bilinguals did not differ. These findings indicate that language-switching experience, rather than high second-language proficiency, is the key determinant of the bilingual advantage in cognitive control processes related to interference resolution.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Evy Woumans, Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, B−9000 Ghent, Belgium
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The work of Nele Verreyt is supported by the Special Research Fund (BOF) of Ghent University. Special thanks to Tamar Gollan for helpful input.

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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1366-7289
  • EISSN: 1469-1841
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