Bilingual advantage in attentional control: Evidence from the forced-attention dichotic listening paradigm

Research Area: Research Year: 2011
Type of Publication: Article Keywords: bilingualism; executive functions; dichotic listening; attentional control; inhibition
Authors: Soveri, A.; Laine, M.; Hämäläinen, Heike; Hugdahl, Kenneth
Abstract:
It has been claimed that due to their experience in controlling two languages, bilinguals exceed monolinguals in certain executive functions, especially inhibition of task-irrelevant stimuli. Here we investigated the effects of bilingualism on an executive phonological task, namely the forced-attention dichotic listening task with syllabic stimuli. In the standard non-forced (NF) condition, the participants reported all syllables they heard, be it from the right or the left ear. In the forced-right (FR) and forced-left (FL) attention conditions, they had to direct their attention to either the right- or the left-ear stimulus and inhibit information coming to the other ear. We tested Finnish monolinguals and early simultaneous Finnish–Swedish bilinguals from two age groups: (30–50-year-olds and 60–74-year-olds). The results showed that the bilinguals performed better than the monolinguals in the FR and FL conditions. This supports the idea of a bilingual advantage in directing attention and inhibiting task-irrelevant stimuli.
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