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Open AccessArticle

Attentional Fluctuations, Cognitive Flexibility, and Bilingualism in Kindergarteners

1
Department of Psychiatry and Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California San Francisco, 401 Parnassus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94143, USA
2
Department of Psychology, University of California Berkeley, 2121 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94704, USA
3
Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language (BCBL), Mikeletegi Pasealekua 69, 20009 Donostia, Spain
4
IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for Science, Maria Diaz de Haro 3, 6 Solairua, 48013 Bilbao, Spain
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Departamento de Lengua Vasca y Comunicación, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Barrio Sarriena, 48940 Leioa, Spain
6
Brain Imaging Research Center (BIRC), Institute for Brain and Cognitive Sciences (IBaCS), Departments of Psychological Sciences, Neuroscience and Psychiatry, University of Connecticut, 850 Bolton Road, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
7
Haskins Laboratories, 300 George St #900, New Haven, CT 06511, USA
8
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinanomachi Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(5), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9050058
Received: 22 February 2019 / Revised: 7 May 2019 / Accepted: 21 May 2019 / Published: 24 May 2019
The idea of a bilingual advantage in aspects of cognitive control—including cognitive flexibility, inhibition, working memory, and attention—is disputed. Using a sample of kindergarten children, the present study investigated associations between bilingualism and cognitive flexibility—a relationship that has shown mixed findings in prior literature. We also extend prior work by exploring relationships between bilingualism and attentional fluctuations, which represent consistency in attentional control and contribute to cognitive performance. To our knowledge, no previous study has explored this association. Theoretically, attentional fluctuations might mediate or moderate the relationship between bilingualism and cognitive flexibility. However, given evidence of null findings from extant literature when confounding variables are adequately controlled and tasks are standardized, we did not expect to find a bilingual advantage in either cognitive flexibility or attentional fluctuations. Our results supported this hypothesis when considering bilingualism both continuously and categorically. The importance of expanding upon mechanistic accounts connecting bilingualism to cognitive improvements is discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: bilingualism; early childhood; attention; cognitive flexibility bilingualism; early childhood; attention; cognitive flexibility
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Haft, S.L.; Kepinska, O.; Caballero, J.N.; Carreiras, M.; Hoeft, F. Attentional Fluctuations, Cognitive Flexibility, and Bilingualism in Kindergarteners. Behav. Sci. 2019, 9, 58.

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