The Influence of Bilingual Language Experience on Working Memory Updating Performance in Young Adults

AbstractReports of the relationship between aspects of cognitive control and bilingual language experience in young adults have been inconsistent. This study compared performance between monolingual and bilingual young adults on working memory (WM) updating as a measure of cognitive control and examined how differences in bilingual language experience manifest in updating performance. A letter N-back task with set size and lure manipulations was used to measure updating processes in the presence of increased memory load and interference. We expected to see an effect of the bilingual experience on WM updating, as well as within task variations related to the use of different updating mechanisms. While the monolingual and bilingual groups did not perform significantly differently, high non-English reading proficiency significantly predicted accuracy and reaction time within the bilingual group, particularly in high load, interference conditions. Results showed that young adults categorized as bilingual in a broadly defined group may be difficult to uniformly compare to a monolingual group as they show large variations in performance depending on their individual language experience.

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