Date of Award
Thesis and Dissertation
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Psychology
John C. Cutting
Recent research has suggested that speaking more than one language may lead to benefits across a variety of different cognitive tasks (Bialystok, Craik, Green, & Gollan, 2009). This effect has been dubbed the Bilingual Advantage. It has been suggested that this advantage relates to more the development of greater efficiency with processes involved in task-switching. The current study used a task-switching task to investigate three of these processes: reconfiguration, monitoring, and inhibitory control processes.
Monolingual and bilingual participants were presented blocks of trials in which they had to either categorize words as either abstract or concrete, or pictures as human-made or natural. In some blocks, only one task was presented (single-task). In other blocks, both word and picture trials were presented (mixed-task). Stimuli were presented in two formats: univalent stimuli contained only words or pictures and bivalent stimuli contained both a word and a picture. In the bivalent conditions, participants were cued to respond to either the picture or the word. Reconfiguration corresponds to the participants' ability to change from one task set (e.g., categorizing words) to another (categorizing pictures). This is measured in this task by comparing the switch (categorizing words -> categorizing pictures) to non-switch trials (categorizing words -> categorizing words) within the mixed-task bocks. Monitoring processes are activated on a trial-by-trial basis when the participant decides if a switch in mental sets is necessary. This process was measured by comparing performance between non-switch trials in single-task and mixed-task blocks. Inhibitory processes were measured by comparing performance between the univalent and bivalent trials.
The results showed no evidence for the Bilingual Advantage. Switching and inhibitory costs were present, which demonstrates the effectiveness of the task; however, the lack of interaction did not support the hypotheses. The interaction results for monitoring costs did replicate the findings of Prior and MacWhinney (2010) and Hernandez et al. (2013). There were no group differences for monitoring costs. There are several potential explanations for the results of the current study. Overall, it is unclear how monolinguals and bilinguals differ in terms of cognitive functioning.
Brown, Jennifer M., "Task-Switching in Bilinguals: Further Investigation of the Bilingual Advantage" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 416.