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

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2019).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Maurits Van den Noort
Website
Guest Editor
Research Group of Pain and Neuroscience, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 130-⁠⁠⁠701, Republic of Korea
Interests: bilingualism; second language acquisition; working memory; schizophrenia; depression; sleep disorders; Parkinson's disease; fMRI; TMS
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Peggy M.P.C. Bosch
Website
Guest Editor
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Cognition, Radboud University Nijmegen, Postbus 9104, Nijmegen 6500 HE, the Netherlands
Interests: schizophrenia; depression; sleep disorders; acupuncture; fMRI; TMS
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Esli Struys
Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Linguistics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Elsene, Belgium
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

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Behavioral Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

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

Published Papers (13 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle
Sequential Multilingualism and Cognitive Abilities: Preliminary Data on the Contribution of Language Proficiency and Use in Different Modalities
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(9), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9090092 - 26 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
This exploratory study focuses on sequential bi-/multilinguals (specifically, nonimmigrant young Dutch native speakers who learned at least one foreign language (FL) at or after the age of 5) and investigates the impact of proficiency-based and amount-of-use-based degrees of multilingualism in different modalities (i.e., [...] Read more.
This exploratory study focuses on sequential bi-/multilinguals (specifically, nonimmigrant young Dutch native speakers who learned at least one foreign language (FL) at or after the age of 5) and investigates the impact of proficiency-based and amount-of-use-based degrees of multilingualism in different modalities (i.e., speaking, listening, writing, reading) on inhibition, disengagement of attention, and switching. Fifty-four participants completed a comprehensive background questionnaire, a nonverbal fluid intelligence task, a Flanker task, and the Trail Making Test. Correlational and regression analyses considering multilingualism related variables and other variables that may contribute to the cognitive abilities under investigation (e.g., years of formal education, socioeconomic status, physical activity, playing video-games) revealed that only proficiency-based degrees of multilingualism impacted cognitive abilities. Particularly, mean FL writing proficiency affected inhibition (i.e., significant positive flanker effect) and L2 listening proficiency influenced disengagement of attention (i.e., significant negative sequential congruency effect). Our findings suggest that only those speakers who have reached a certain proficiency threshold in more than one FL show a cognitive advantage, which, in our sample, emerged in inhibition only. Furthermore, our study suggests that, regarding the impact of proficiency-based degrees of multilingualism on cognitive abilities, for our participants the writing and listening modalities mattered most. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Attentional Control in Bilingualism: An Exploration of the Effects of Trait Anxiety and Rumination on Inhibition
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(8), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9080089 - 19 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Bilingual individuals have been reported to show enhanced executive function in comparison to monolingual peers. However, the role of adverse emotional traits such as trait anxiety and rumination in bilingual cognitive control has not been established. Attentional Control Theory holds that anxiety disproportionately [...] Read more.
Bilingual individuals have been reported to show enhanced executive function in comparison to monolingual peers. However, the role of adverse emotional traits such as trait anxiety and rumination in bilingual cognitive control has not been established. Attentional Control Theory holds that anxiety disproportionately impacts processing efficiency (typically measured via reaction time) in comparison to accuracy (performance effectiveness). We administered eye tracking and behavioural measures of inhibition to young, healthy monolingual and highly proficient bilingual adults. We found that trait anxiety was a reliable risk factor for decreased inhibitory control accuracy in bilingual but not monolingual participants. These findings, therefore, indicate that adverse emotional traits may differentially modulate performance in monolingual and bilingual individuals, an interpretation which has implications both for ACT and future research on bilingual cognition. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Shifting Gear in the Study of the Bilingual Advantage: Language Switching Examined as a Possible Moderator
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(8), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9080086 - 15 Aug 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The bilingual advantage is a heavily debated topic in research on bilingualism. The current study further investigated one specific aspect of bilingualism proposed to be a determining factor for the bilingual advantage, namely language switching behaviour. We investigated whether a bilingual advantage can [...] Read more.
The bilingual advantage is a heavily debated topic in research on bilingualism. The current study further investigated one specific aspect of bilingualism proposed to be a determining factor for the bilingual advantage, namely language switching behaviour. We investigated whether a bilingual advantage can be detected in the executive functions of inhibition and shifting by comparing monolingual and bilingual participants on a Simon task and a colour–shape switching task. Furthermore, we examined the relation between these executive functions and language switching proficiency, as measured by a semantic verbal fluency task. In addition, the current study set out to investigate the convergence of self-reported language switching estimates and actual language switching proficiency. Results revealed a bilingual advantage for shifting, but not for inhibition. However, this bilingual advantage for shifting was not related to language switching behaviour. Additionally, we were unable to identify a relation between objective and subjective measures of switching abilities. These findings seem to confirm the existence of a bilingual advantage, but also once again validate its elusiveness, as demonstrated by the absence of bilingual benefits on our measure of inhibition. It furthermore questions the validity of switching measures employed in previous studies. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Attentional Fluctuations, Cognitive Flexibility, and Bilingualism in Kindergarteners
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(5), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9050058 - 24 May 2019
Cited by 1
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
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Attention Network in Interpreters: The Role of Training and Experience
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(4), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9040043 - 23 Apr 2019
Cited by 2
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
Show Figures

Figure 1

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 - 18 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
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
Show Figures

Figure 1

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 - 13 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
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 - 08 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
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

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview
The Bidirectional in Bilingual: Cognitive, Social and Linguistic Effects of and on Third-Age Language Learning
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(9), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9090098 - 11 Sep 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Bilingualism has been put forward as a life experience that, similar to musical training or being physically active, may boost cognitive performance and slow down age-related cognitive decline. In more recent years, bilingualism has come to be acknowledged not as a trait but [...] Read more.
Bilingualism has been put forward as a life experience that, similar to musical training or being physically active, may boost cognitive performance and slow down age-related cognitive decline. In more recent years, bilingualism has come to be acknowledged not as a trait but as a highly individual experience where the context of use strongly modulates any cognitive effect that ensues from it (cf. van den Noort et al., 2019). In addition, modulating factors have been shown to interact in intricate ways (Pot, Keijzer and de Bot, 2018). Adding to the complexity is the fact that control processes linked to bilingualism are bidirectional—just as language control can influence cognitive control, individual differences in cognitive functioning often predict language learning outcomes and control. Indeed, Hartsuiker (2015) posited the need for a better understanding of cognitive control, language control as well as the transfer process between them. In this paper, we aim to shed light on the bidirectional and individual cognitive, social and linguistic factors in relation to bilingualism and second language learning, with a special focus on older adulthood: (1) we first show the intricate clustering of modulating individual factors as deterministic of cognitive outcomes of bilingual experiences at the older end of the lifespan; (2) we then present a meta-study of work in the emergent field of third-age language learning, the results of which are related to lifelong bilingualism; (3) objectives (1) and (2) are then combined to result in a blueprint for future work relating cognitive and social individual differences to bilingual linguistic outcomes and vice versa in the context of third-age language learning. Full article
Open AccessReview
A Bilingual Advantage? An Appeal for a Change in Perspective and Recommendations for Future Research
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(9), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9090095 - 04 Sep 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
The debate on possible cognitive advantages bilinguals have over monolinguals continues to occupy the research community. There is an ever-growing research body focusing on adjudicating whether there is, in fact, an effect of using two or more languages regularly on cognition. In this [...] Read more.
The debate on possible cognitive advantages bilinguals have over monolinguals continues to occupy the research community. There is an ever-growing research body focusing on adjudicating whether there is, in fact, an effect of using two or more languages regularly on cognition. In this paper, we briefly review some of the more pertinent literature that has attempted to identify attenuating, modulating, and confounding factors in research comparing monolingual and bilingual populations, and we highlight issues that should be taken into account in future research to move forward as a research community. At the same time, we argue for a change in perspective concerning what is deemed an advantage and what is not and argue for more ecologically valid research that investigates real-life advantages. Full article
Open AccessReview
A Systematic Review on the Possible Relationship Between Bilingualism, Cognitive Decline, and the Onset of Dementia
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(7), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9070081 - 23 Jul 2019
Cited by 7
Abstract
A systematic review was conducted to investigate whether bilingualism has a protective effect against cognitive decline in aging and can protect against dementia. We searched the Medline, ScienceDirect, Scopus, and ERIC databases with a cut-off date of 31 March 2019, thereby following the [...] Read more.
A systematic review was conducted to investigate whether bilingualism has a protective effect against cognitive decline in aging and can protect against dementia. We searched the Medline, ScienceDirect, Scopus, and ERIC databases with a cut-off date of 31 March 2019, thereby following the guidelines of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) protocol. Our search resulted in 34 eligible studies. Mixed results were found with respect to the protective effect of bilingualism against cognitive decline. Several studies showed a protective effect whereas other studies failed to find it. Moreover, evidence for a delay of the onset of dementia of between 4 and 5.5 years in bilingual individuals compared to monolinguals was found in several studies, but not in all. Methodological differences in the set-up of the studies seem to explain these mixed results. Lifelong bilingualism is a complex individual process, and many factors seem to influence this and need to be further investigated. This can be best achieved through large longitudinal studies with objective behavioral and neuroimaging measurements. In conclusion, although some evidence was found for a cognitive reserve-enhancing effect of lifelong bilingualism and protection against dementia, to date, no firm conclusions can be drawn. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

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 - 24 Mar 2019
Cited by 22
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 - 13 Mar 2019
Cited by 20
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
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop