Monday, May 11, 2015
Working memory in multilingual children: Is there a bilingual effect?
Pascale Engel de Abreu. (2011). Working memory in multilingual children: Is there a bilingual effect? Memory, 19(5): 529-537.
Bilingual speakers have been found to outperform their monolingual peers on several tasks of executive control (Bialystok, 2001).Working memory is an important resource that has been linked to cognitive control. The working memory system updates and manipulates information held in short-term stores. The ability to hold relevant information in mind may be considered an important component of cognitive control.
The present study examined the hypothesis that bilingual children might exhibit advantages in working memory performance because of the constant need to exert cognitive control in selection of competing linguistic representations. This longitudinal study compared the performance of 22 Luxembourgish monolingual children and 22 simultaneous bilingual children aged six to eight years over a period of three years. All children completed an assessment of working memory (simple span and complex span tasks), fluid intelligence, and language (vocabulary and syntax).
Results reveal no significant differences between bilingual and monolingual children with respect to working memory and fluid intelligence tasks, whereas the performance of bilingual children was significantly lower on language measures. As such, the study provides no evidence for a bilingual advantage related to the working memory component of cognitive control.
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