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Bilingual Advantages

Contributions of Different Bilingual Experiences to Cognitive Control Differences Among Young-adult Bilinguals


Zhilong Xie

The question whether bilingualism is linked to benefits in cognitive control (executive functions) is intensely debated among linguists. While some studies come to the conclusion that bilingual individuals consistently outperform their monolingual counterparts on tasks involving cognitive control, other studies argue that there is no coherent evidence showing that bilingual advantages actually exist. This opposing view results from two inadequately investigated perspectives, namely the complexities of bilingualism and the multifaceted nature of cognitive control.
This publication combines these two perspectives and presents a new approach towards the analysis of bilingual advantage. It discusses the results of a combined analysis of both specific bilingual experiences and specific aspects of cognitive control.
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Chapter 5: Experiment Two – L2 Proficiency and Cognitive Control


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Chapter 5:    Experiment Two – L2 Proficiency and Cognitive Control

5.1   Introduction

Although previous studies present us with a mixed picture of bilingual advantage among young adult bilinguals, Experiment One has indeed provided evidence of bilingual advantage that young-adult unbalanced Chinese-English bilinguals have advantage in cognitive control compared with their Chinese counterpart monolinguals. However, their bilingual advantage is limited only in the aspect of mental set shifting but not in conflict monitoring or inhibiting. Experiment One does give further support for bilingual advantage, but it still does not tell us which specific aspects of bilingual experiences may have caused this bilingual advantage? As discussed in Chapter Three, different types of bilingual experiences, such as different L2 proficiency and language use, may lead to variations of bilingual advantage in cognitive control. The current experiment (Experiment Two) is to answer Research Question 2: Does language (L2) proficiency contribute to cognitive control differences among young-adult bilinguals?

5.2   Specific Background

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