Do Bilingual Infants Possess Enhanced Cognitive Skills?

AbstractPrior studies have reported that bilingualism enhances cognitive ability due to the regular conflict management of two language systems (Bialystok, 2015). Here, we explore whether infant bilingualism improves cognitive ability at 9.5 months. Twenty-four monolingual English and 23 bilingual French-English infants were first trained to predict a reward on the right based on a set of tone-shape rule structure (AAB pattern). Infants were later trained to predict a different reward on the left based on another set of rule structure (ABB pattern). Correct anticipation of reward locations indicates successful learning. If bilingualism improves infants’ cognitive skills, bilingual infants would be better at learning a new pattern-reward association. However, we did not find evidence that bilinguals looked at the correct location more than monolinguals or learned the new pattern-reward association faster. Thus, our results suggest bilingualism may not enhance cognitive ability at 9.5 months, as least using the current paradigm.

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