Good language-switchers are good task-switchers: Evidence from Spanish-English and Mandarin-English bilinguals

Anat Prior, Tamar H. Gollan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Bilingual advantages in executive control tasks are well documented, but it is not yet clear what degree or type of bilingualism leads to these advantages. To investigate this issue, we compared the performance of two bilingual groups and monolingual speakers in task-switching and language-switching paradigms. Spanish-English bilinguals, who reported switching between languages frequently in daily life, exhibited smaller task-switching costs than monolinguals after controlling for between-group differences in speed and parent education level. By contrast, Mandarin-English bilinguals, who reported switching languages less frequently than Spanish-English bilinguals, did not exhibit a task-switching advantage relative to monolinguals. Comparing the two bilingual groups in language-switching, Spanish-English bilinguals exhibited smaller costs than Mandarin-English bilinguals, even after matching for fluency in the non-dominant language. These results demonstrate an explicit link between language-switching and bilingual advantages in task-switching, while also illustrating some limitations on bilingual advantages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-691
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2011

Keywords

  • Bilingualism
  • Executive control
  • Executive function
  • Language
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • General Neuroscience

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