Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Who are the bilinguals (and monolinguals)?

  • GIGI LUK (a1)

Extract

In the keynote article, “Bilingualism and Cognition”, Valian (2014) has reviewed current research on comparing executive function (EF) in monolingual and bilingual individuals across the lifespan. The conclusion is that there are inconsistent EF advantages from bilingualism and all other cognitive challenging activities primarily because individual differences in these cognitive challenging experiences may collectively attribute to superior EF resulting in inconsistent EF benefit attributable to a single experience. In essence, variability in study participants’ experience and tasks contributes to the inconsistency in the behavioral outcomes observed in monolinguals and bilinguals. Notably, Valian suggests that monolinguals may also engage in other cognitively challenging activities, which have not been accounted for in individual studies, thereby resulting in improved EF similar in magnitude to that related to bilingual experience. Although it was not specified which cognitively challenging activity is more likely to be engaged by monolinguals more than by bilinguals, the question at heart is: is there an EF advantage that can be specifically attributed to bilingual experience? The review addressed in the keynote demonstrates seemingly inconsistent patterns of results. In this commentary, I would like to suggest that, in addition to task measurements, individual bilingual experience is dynamic and multifaceted. Moreover, bilingual experience varies in different communities. Consequently, one potential source of explanation for the inconsistent results in between-group EF performances is the characteristics of the bilinguals (and monolinguals) and their social environments included in these studies.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Abutalebi, J., Della Rosa, P. A., Green, D. W., Hernandez, M., Scifo, P., Keim, R., Cappa, S. F., & Costa, A. (2012). Bilingualism tunes the anterior cingulate cortex for conflict monitoring. Cerebral Cortex, 22, 20762086.
de Bruin, A., Roelofs, A., Dijkstra, T., & Fitzpatrick, I. (2014). Domain-general inhibition areas of the brain are involved in language switching: fMRI evidence from trilingual speakers. NeuroImage, 90, 348359.
Fernandez, M., Tartar, J. L., Padron, D., & Acosta, J. (2013). Neurophysiological marker of inhibition distinguishes language groups on a non-linguistic executive function test. Brain and Cognition, 83, 330336.
Grosjean, F. (1982). Life with Two Languages: An Introduction to Bilingualism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Lambert, W. E. (1967). A social psychology of bilingualism. Journal of Social Issues, 23, 91109.
Linck, J. A., Osthus, P., Koeth, J. T., & Bunting, M. F. (2014). Working memory and second language comprehension and production: A meta-analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 21, 861883.
Luk, G., & Bialystok, E. (2013). Bilingualism is not a categorical variable: Interaction between language proficiency and usage. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25 (5), 605621. doi:10.1080/20445911.2013.795574
Luk, G., de Sa, E., & Bialystok, E. (2011). Is there a relation between onset age of bilingualism and enhancement of cognitive control? Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 14 (4), 588595.
Luk, G., Green, D.W., Abutalebi, J. & Grady, C. (2012). Cognitive control of language switching in bilinguals: A quantitative meta-analysis on functional neuroimaging studies. Language and Cognitive Processes, 27, 14791488.
Macnamara, B. N., & Conway, A. R. A. (2014). Novel evidence in support of the bilingual advantage: Influences of task demands and experience on cognitive control and working memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 21, 520525.
Mishra, R. K., Hilchey, M. D., Singh, N., & Klein, R. M. (2012). On the time course of exogenous cueing effects in bilinguals: higher proficiency in a second language is associated with more rapid endogenous disengagement. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65, 15021510.
Prior, A., & Gollan, T. H. (2011). Good language-switchers are good task-switchers: evidence from Spanish–English and Mandarin–English bilinguals. Journal of International Neuropsychological Society, 17, 682691.
Romaine, S. (2013). The bilingual and multilingual community. In Bhatia, T. K. & Ritchie, W. C. (eds.) The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, 2nd ed. pp. 445465. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Tse, C., & Altarriba, J. (2014). The relationship between language proficiency and attentional control in Cantonese–English bilingual children: Evidence from Simon, Simon switching, and working memory tasks. Frontiers in Psychology. 5:954. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00954
Valian, V. (2014). Bilingualism and cognition. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, doi:10.1017/S1366728914000522.
Wilson, R. S., Boyle, P. A., Yang, J., James, B. D., & Bennett, D. A. (2014, August 11). Early life instruction in foreign language and music and incidence of mild cognitive impairment. Neuropsychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/neu0000129

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed