Do Bilingual Children Have an Executive Function Advantage? Results From Inhibition, Shifting, and Updating Tasks Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine differences in performance between monolingual and Spanish–English bilingual second graders (aged 7–9 years old) on executive function tasks assessing inhibition, shifting, and updating to contribute more evidence to the ongoing debate about a potential bilingual executive function advantage. Method ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 05, 2018
Do Bilingual Children Have an Executive Function Advantage? Results From Inhibition, Shifting, and Updating Tasks
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Genesis D. Arizmendi
    Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Mary Alt
    Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Shelley Gray
    Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Tiffany P. Hogan
    MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston, MA
  • Samuel Green
    Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Nelson Cowan
    University of Missouri–Columbia
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • In memory of our colleague and collaborator, Samuel (Sam) Green, who passed away during the preparation of this manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge his contributions to the research.
    In memory of our colleague and collaborator, Samuel (Sam) Green, who passed away during the preparation of this manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge his contributions to the research.×
  • Correspondence to Genesis D. Arizmendi: genesis@email.arizona.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond
    Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond×
  • Editor: Ron Gillam
    Editor: Ron Gillam×
  • Publisher Note: This article is part of the Clinical Forum: Working Memory in School-Age Children.
    Publisher Note: This article is part of the Clinical Forum: Working Memory in School-Age Children.×
Article Information
Clinical Forum: Working Memory in School-Age Children / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 05, 2018
Do Bilingual Children Have an Executive Function Advantage? Results From Inhibition, Shifting, and Updating Tasks
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2018, Vol. 49, 356-378. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0107
History: Received October 6, 2017 , Revised February 12, 2018 , Accepted February 18, 2018
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2018, Vol. 49, 356-378. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0107
History: Received October 6, 2017; Revised February 12, 2018; Accepted February 18, 2018
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine differences in performance between monolingual and Spanish–English bilingual second graders (aged 7–9 years old) on executive function tasks assessing inhibition, shifting, and updating to contribute more evidence to the ongoing debate about a potential bilingual executive function advantage.

Method One hundred sixty-seven monolingual English-speaking children and 80 Spanish–English bilingual children were administered 7 tasks on a touchscreen computer in the context of a pirate game. Bayesian statistics were used to determine if there were differences between the monolingual and bilingual groups. Additional analyses involving covariates of maternal level of education and nonverbal intelligence, and matching on these same variables, were also completed.

Results Scaled-information Bayes factor scores more strongly favored the null hypothesis that there were no differences between the bilingual and monolingual groups on any of the executive function tasks. For 2 of the tasks, we found an advantage in favor of the monolingual group.

Conclusions If there is a bilingual advantage in school-aged children, it is not robust across circumstances. We discuss potential factors that might counteract an actual advantage, including task reliability and environmental influences.

Acknowledgments
This work was funded by Grant #R01 DC010784 (with Shelley Gray, PI) from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and the first author was supported by diversity supplement 3R01DC010784-04S1, also from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. We are deeply grateful to the staff, research associates, school administrators, teachers, children, and families who participated. Muchas gracias a las familias que nos ayudaron a completar esta investigación para aprender mas sobre lo que significa ser bilingüe. Apreciamos su tiempo. Key personnel included (in alphabetical order) Shara Brinkley, Gary Carstensen, Cecilia Figueroa, Karen Guilmette, Trudy Kuo, Bjorg LeSueur, Annelise Pesch, and Jean Zimmer. Many students also contributed to this work including (in alphabetical order) Lauren Baron, Alexander Brown, Nora Schlesinger, Nisha Talanki, and Hui-Chun Yang.
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