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Mouse tracking reveals that bilinguals behave like experts*

  • SARA INCERA (a1) and CONOR T. McLENNAN (a1)
Abstract

We used mouse tracking to compare the performance of bilinguals and monolinguals in a Stroop task. Participants were instructed to respond to the color of the words (e.g., blue in yellow font) by clicking on response options on the screen. We recorded participants’ movements of a computer mouse: when participants started moving (initiation times), and how fast they moved towards the correct response (x-coordinates over time). Interestingly, initiation times were longer for bilinguals than monolinguals. Nevertheless, when comparing mouse trajectories, bilinguals moved faster towards the correct response. Taken together, these results indicate that bilinguals behave qualitatively differently from monolinguals; bilinguals are “experts” at managing conflicting information. Experts across many different domains take longer to initiate a response, but then they outperform novices. These qualitative differences in performance could be at the root of apparently contradictory findings in the bilingual literature.

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Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Sara Incera, Department of Psychology, Cleveland State University, 2121 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115 saraincera@gmail.com
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*

We thank Daniel Mirman for his valuable feedback on the statistical analysis.

This work includes portions of Sara Incera's Master's thesis (Incera, 2014). Data from the English–Spanish group is reported separately in a manuscript that discusses competition between the two languages of a bilingual participant (Incera & McLennan, 2015).

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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1366-7289
  • EISSN: 1469-1841
  • URL: /core/journals/bilingualism-language-and-cognition
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