Special Issue "Individual Variation and the Bilingual Advantage—Factors that Modulate the Effect of Bilingualism on Cognitive Control"

A special issue of Behavioral Sciences (ISSN 2076-328X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2019)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Maurits Van den Noort

Research Group of Pain and Neuroscience, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 130-⁠⁠⁠701, Republic of Korea
Website | E-Mail
Interests: bilingualism; second language acquisition; working memory; schizophrenia; depression; sleep disorders; Parkinson's disease; fMRI; TMS
Guest Editor
Dr. Peggy M.P.C. Bosch

Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Cognition, Radboud University Nijmegen, Postbus 9104, Nijmegen 6500 HE, the Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Interests: schizophrenia; depression; sleep disorders; acupuncture; fMRI; TMS
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Esli Struys

Centre for Linguistics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Elsene, Belgium
Website | E-Mail
Interests: bilingualism; second language acquisition; cognitive control; interpreting; bilingual education

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The number of bilingual and multilingual speakers is steadily growing. How do bilinguals manage two or more language systems in their daily interactions and how does being bilingual/multilingual affect brain functioning and vice versa? Previous research showed that cognitive control plays a key role during bilingual language management. This hypothesis is further supported by the fact that foreign languages were found to affect not only the expected linguistic domains, but surprisingly, also other non-linguistic domains, such as cognitive control, attention, inhibition, working memory, etc. Somehow learning languages seems to affect executive/brain functioning. This is in the literature referred to as the bilingual advantage, meaning that people who learn two or more languages seem to outperform monolinguals in executive functioning skills. In this special issue, we will first present studies that investigate the bilingual advantage; moreover, we will go one step further as well, by focusing on factors that modulate the effect of bilingualism on cognitive control. We welcome all submissions related to the above mentioned topics and also from various disciplines; i.e., linguistics, psycholinguistics, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroscience.

Prof. Dr. Maurits van den Noort
Dr. Peggy Bosch
Prof. Dr. Esli Struys
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Bilingualism
  • Executive Functioning
  • Bilingual Advantage
  • Cognitive Control
  • Individual Variation

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Attentional Fluctuations, Cognitive Flexibility, and Bilingualism in Kindergarteners
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
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Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Attention Network in Interpreters: The Role of Training and Experience
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(4), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9040043
Received: 12 February 2019 / Revised: 20 March 2019 / Accepted: 16 April 2019 / Published: 23 April 2019
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Abstract
The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship found between interpreting training and experience and the attentional network components: Alerting, orienting, and executive attention using the Attention Network Test (ANT). In the current study we tested three groups of interpreting students, [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship found between interpreting training and experience and the attentional network components: Alerting, orienting, and executive attention using the Attention Network Test (ANT). In the current study we tested three groups of interpreting students, translation students, and professional interpreters as specific forms of multilingual expertise. The student groups were tested longitudinally at the beginning and the end of their Master’s programme. The professional interpreters were tested only one point in time. The results showed different attention network dynamics for the interpreting students compared to the translation students regarding alertness and executive network. First, the interpreting students showed a higher conflict effect when the alert cue was presented as well as a reduced accuracy compared to translation students. Second, the interpreting training had less effect on alerting than the translation training. Finally, two student groups showed a faster response time in conflict effect than the professional interpreters. In contrast, the professional interpreters scored a higher accuracy than two-student groups specifically in an incongruent alert condition, which confirms that they used a different responding strategy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Relationship between Language Dominance and Stimulus-Stimulus or Stimulus-Response Inhibition in Uyghur-Chinese Bilinguals with an Investigation of Speed-Accuracy Trade-Offs
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(4), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9040041
Received: 6 March 2019 / Revised: 13 April 2019 / Accepted: 15 April 2019 / Published: 18 April 2019
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Abstract
The effect of bilingualism on inhibition control is increasingly under ongoing exploration. The present study primarily investigated the effect of within bilingual factors (i.e., dominance types of Uyghur-Chinese bilinguals) on a Stimulus-Stimulus task (Flanker) and a Stimulus-Response task (Simon). We also compared the [...] Read more.
The effect of bilingualism on inhibition control is increasingly under ongoing exploration. The present study primarily investigated the effect of within bilingual factors (i.e., dominance types of Uyghur-Chinese bilinguals) on a Stimulus-Stimulus task (Flanker) and a Stimulus-Response task (Simon). We also compared the bilinguals’ performance on each type of cognitive control task in respect to a possible trade-off between speed and accuracy. The findings showed no explicit differences on performance in response time or accuracy among balanced, L1-dominant and L2-dominant bilinguals but balanced bilinguals demonstrated a significant speed-accuracy trade-off in the overall context switching between non-conflict and conflict trials in both cognitive control tasks where monitoring process is highly demanded. Additionally, all bilinguals across all language dominance types showed a trade-off strategy in inhibition during a Stimulus-Stimulus conflict (flanker task). This evidence indicates that the differences of within bilinguals in cognitive control could lie in the monitoring process, while for all bilinguals, inhibition during a Stimulus-Stimulus conflict could be a major component in the mechanism of bilingual language processing. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Self-Concepts in Reading and Spelling among Mono- and Multilingual Children: Extending the Bilingual Advantage
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(4), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9040039
Received: 28 February 2019 / Revised: 1 April 2019 / Accepted: 9 April 2019 / Published: 13 April 2019
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Abstract
Cognitive representations and beliefs are what comprise an individual’s self-concept. A positive self-concept is related to and influences academic achievement, and the relationship between a domain-specific self-concept and achievement in the same domain is positive and strong. However, insufficient attention has been paid [...] Read more.
Cognitive representations and beliefs are what comprise an individual’s self-concept. A positive self-concept is related to and influences academic achievement, and the relationship between a domain-specific self-concept and achievement in the same domain is positive and strong. However, insufficient attention has been paid to these issues among multilingual children. More importantly, since instruction strongly contributes to the development of metacognition and executive functions (EFs), and since the bilingual advantage hypothesis holds that the constant management of multiple languages entails benefits for EF, we bring together these important issues in the present study. We examine the relationship between domain-specific self-concepts and standardized assessment of reading and spelling competences against the background of potential differences in self-concept between monolingual and multilingual German children. While between-group comparisons revealed no significant differences for self-concept nor reading competency, monolinguals outperformed multilinguals in spelling. Correlations between domain-specific self-concepts and academic achievement in reading comprehension, reading fluency, and spelling were positive and significant for both groups. Regardless of language background, children’s evaluations of their academic achievement (reading and spelling) were realistic. We argue, on a theoretical basis, that metacognition and EFs could facilitate a bilingual advantage and improve educational outcomes. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Cognates on Cognitive Control in Late Sequential Multilinguals: A Bilingual Advantage?
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(3), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9030025
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 28 February 2019 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
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Abstract
The present study investigated the influence of Dutch-German cognates resp. orthographic neighbors on controlled language processing (i.e., response inhibition). Two monolingual Stroop tasks (Dutch and German) were performed by Dutch-speaking participants who could and could not speak German, and by French-speaking participants who [...] Read more.
The present study investigated the influence of Dutch-German cognates resp. orthographic neighbors on controlled language processing (i.e., response inhibition). Two monolingual Stroop tasks (Dutch and German) were performed by Dutch-speaking participants who could and could not speak German, and by French-speaking participants who could speak German. The question is whether or not cognate language processing affects cognitive control, resulting in a possible bilingual advantage. In the German Stroop task, we found additional advantages in congruent, as well as incongruent, trials for the two Dutch-speaking groups, which postulates the existence of a cognate resp. orthographic neighbor facilitation effect, even when participants only know one of the two cognate languages. The findings are discussed in relation to two possible factors that can modulate the effect of bilingualism on cognitive control: cognateness and orthographic neighborhood. The results suggest the existence of a notification mechanism in the bilingual brain. This mechanism would notify the bilingual brain when dealing with cognates and orthographic neighbors. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview
Not All Bilinguals Are the Same: A Call for More Detailed Assessments and Descriptions of Bilingual Experiences
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(3), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9030033
Received: 21 February 2019 / Revised: 20 March 2019 / Accepted: 21 March 2019 / Published: 24 March 2019
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Abstract
No two bilinguals are the same. Differences in bilingual experiences can affect language-related processes but have also been proposed to modulate executive functioning. Recently, there has been an increased interest in studying individual differences between bilinguals, for example in terms of their age [...] Read more.
No two bilinguals are the same. Differences in bilingual experiences can affect language-related processes but have also been proposed to modulate executive functioning. Recently, there has been an increased interest in studying individual differences between bilinguals, for example in terms of their age of acquisition, language proficiency, use, and switching. However, and despite the importance of this individual variation, studies often do not provide detailed assessments of their bilingual participants. This review first discusses several aspects of bilingualism that have been studied in relation to executive functioning. Next, I review different questionnaires and objective measurements that have been proposed to better define bilingual experiences. In order to better understand (effects of) bilingualism within and across studies, it is crucial to carefully examine and describe not only a bilingual’s proficiency and age of acquisition, but also their language use and switching as well as the different interactional contexts in which they use their languages. Full article
Open AccessReview
Does the Bilingual Advantage in Cognitive Control Exist and If So, What Are Its Modulating Factors? A Systematic Review
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(3), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9030027
Received: 2 February 2019 / Revised: 8 March 2019 / Accepted: 10 March 2019 / Published: 13 March 2019
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Abstract
Recently, doubts were raised about the existence of the bilingual advantage in cognitive control. The aim of the present review was to investigate the bilingual advantage and its modulating factors. We searched the Medline, ScienceDirect, Scopus, and ERIC databases for all original data [...] Read more.
Recently, doubts were raised about the existence of the bilingual advantage in cognitive control. The aim of the present review was to investigate the bilingual advantage and its modulating factors. We searched the Medline, ScienceDirect, Scopus, and ERIC databases for all original data and reviewed studies on bilingualism and cognitive control, with a cut-off date of 31 October 2018, thereby following the guidelines of the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analysis (PRISMA) protocol. The results of the 46 original studies show that indeed, the majority, 54.3%, reported beneficial effects of bilingualism on cognitive control tasks; however, 28.3% found mixed results and 17.4% found evidence against its existence. Methodological differences seem to explain these mixed results: Particularly, the varying selection of the bilingual participants, the use of nonstandardized tests, and the fact that individual differences were often neglected and that longitudinal designs were rare. Therefore, a serious risk for bias exists in both directions (i.e., in favor of and against the bilingual advantage). To conclude, we found some evidence for a bilingual advantage in cognitive control; however, if significant progress is to be made, better study designs, bigger data, and more longitudinal studies are needed. Full article
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