Bilingual advantages in cognitive control: inconsistent results and large individual variability within groups via Mousetracker

  • Wenting Ye

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science (MSc)


Bilingual advantage (BA) in executive functions has been controversially discussed for decades, with complex and inconsistent empirical findings. This study conducted three classic tasks (i.e. Flanker, Simon and Spatial Stroop tasks) measuring executive functions with English monolingual, Chinese monolingual and Chinese- English bilingual young adults. Unlike traditional button-press experiments, participants in the current study provided their responses via mouse movement on MouseTracker. This novel technique is considered more sensitive than traditional measure to participants’ decision/action dynamics which might be obscured by button- press experiments. However, the current results did not replicate our previous findings and even reported negative effects (i.e. monolinguals outperformed bilinguals), which motivated us to analyse the individual variability of the raw data more deeply. Large individual variability has been found within groups and within individuals, illustrating various response characteristics of individuals. Such large variability was extremely unexpected, which warrants further research. In conclusion, the current results would not support the BA claim, and standard analysis of mouse movements might obscure large individual variability. Further studies should be cautious of asserting BA before examining individual variability.
Date of Award23 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorMarkus F Damian (Supervisor)

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