Too much of a good thing: Stronger bilingual inhibition leads to larger lag-2 task repetition costs

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Inhibitory control and monitoring abilities of Hebrew-English bilingual and English monolingual university students were compared, in a paradigm requiring participants to switch between performing three distinct tasks. Inhibitory control was gauged by lag-2 task repetition costs, namely decreased performance on the final trial of sequences of type ABA relative to CBA, due to persisting inhibition of the recently abandoned task. Bilinguals had larger lag-2 repetition costs, which reflect stronger inhibition of a no-longer relevant task to facilitate a switch into a new task. Monitoring ability was measured by the fadeout effect, which reflects adaptation to simpler task demands when a single task block immediately and unexpectedly follows mixed task blocks. Bilinguals did not differ from monolinguals in the magnitude or trajectory of the fade-out effect. Thus, results support the notion of increased bilingual inhibitory control, even when it is detrimental to performance, and do not demonstrate a specific bilingual advantage in monitoring. These findings are discussed in the context of the recent debate concerning the locus of bilingual advantages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by EU-FP7 Grant IRG-249163 to AP. The author thanks Nachshon Meiran for valuable discussion and suggestions, Meital Beznos and Eilat Markus for assistance in all technical aspects of the study, and Tamar Gollan and 3 anonymous reviewers for much appreciated feedback on earlier versions of the manuscript.


  • Bilingualism
  • Cognitive control
  • Executive control
  • Inhibition
  • Monitoring
  • Task switching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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