Next Article in Journal
Chemogenetic Enhancement of Axon Regeneration Following Peripheral Nerve Injury in the SLICK-A Mouse
Previous Article in Journal
Multiplicative Effects of Social and Psychological Risk Factors on College Students’ Suicidal Behaviors
Article Menu
Issue 5 (May) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Brain Sci. 2018, 8(5), 92;

Intensity of Multilingual Language Use Predicts Cognitive Performance in Some Multilingual Older Adults

Department of Applied Linguistics, University of Groningen, 9712EK Groningen, The Netherlands
Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein 9301, South Africa
Department of Applied Linguistics, University of Pannonia, 8200 Vezprem, Hungary
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 March 2018 / Revised: 15 May 2018 / Accepted: 15 May 2018 / Published: 19 May 2018
Full-Text   |   PDF [400 KB, uploaded 21 May 2018]   |  


Cognitive advantages for bilinguals have inconsistently been observed in different populations, with different operationalisations of bilingualism, cognitive performance, and the process by which language control transfers to cognitive control. This calls for studies investigating which aspects of multilingualism drive a cognitive advantage, in which populations and under which conditions. This study reports on two cognitive tasks coupled with an extensive background questionnaire on health, wellbeing, personality, language knowledge and language use, administered to 387 older adults in the northern Netherlands, a small but highly multilingual area. Using linear mixed effects regression modeling, we find that when different languages are used frequently in different contexts, enhanced attentional control is observed. Subsequently, a PLS regression model targeting also other influential factors yielded a two-component solution whereby only more sensitive measures of language proficiency and language usage in different social contexts were predictive of cognitive performance above and beyond the contribution of age, gender, income and education. We discuss these findings in light of previous studies that try to uncover more about the nature of bilingualism and the cognitive processes that may drive an advantage. With an unusually large sample size our study advocates for a move away from dichotomous, knowledge-based operationalisations of multilingualism and offers new insights for future studies at the individual level. View Full-Text
Keywords: multilingualism; cognitive control; inhibition; attention; older adults; language usage multilingualism; cognitive control; inhibition; attention; older adults; language usage

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Description: The database where the data used for the analyses in the manuscript are stored (DataverseNL). I've put in a request with our data manager to make the data publicly available and I expect that the link will work in a couple of days (after the weekend).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Pot, A.; Keijzer, M.; de Bot, K. Intensity of Multilingual Language Use Predicts Cognitive Performance in Some Multilingual Older Adults. Brain Sci. 2018, 8, 92.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Brain Sci. EISSN 2076-3425 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top