Employing natural control for confounding factors in the hunt for the bilingual advantage in attention: Evidence from school children in Gibraltar

Chris Moreno-Stokoe*, Markus F E Damian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

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Abstract

Does being bilingual convey a benefit in ‘cognitive control’? Research on this question has been plagued by confounding geopolitical factors which themselves might affect cognitive ability (e.g., Socio-Economic Status, immigration and culture). In the current study, we addressed this problem by exploring individuals of varying degrees of bilingualism from one and the same population, hence naturally controlling for confounding variables. The English/Spanish speaking population of Gibraltar share the same education, amenities, and culture on a very small landmass but vary in the degree to which they master multiple languages. We assessed the performance of 207 Gibraltarian children (9-10yrs) on a battery of auditory attention tests and captured their degree of bilingualism via self-reported and ‘objective’ methods. We found at least ‘moderate’ evidence that measures of bilingualism cannot predict attentional ability. These results add to growing scepticism concerning the truthfulness of the claim that bilingualism conveys cognitive advantages.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cognition
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2020

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Language

Keywords

  • Bilingualism
  • Executive functions
  • Auditory Attention
  • Attentional Components

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