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Highly Fluent, Balanced Bilingualism Does Not Enhance Executive Function Oliver Sawi 1,2, Jack Darrow 1, Hunter Johnson 1, Kenneth Paap 1 ; 1 San Francisco.

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Presentation on theme: "Highly Fluent, Balanced Bilingualism Does Not Enhance Executive Function Oliver Sawi 1,2, Jack Darrow 1, Hunter Johnson 1, Kenneth Paap 1 ; 1 San Francisco."— Presentation transcript:

1 Highly Fluent, Balanced Bilingualism Does Not Enhance Executive Function Oliver Sawi 1,2, Jack Darrow 1, Hunter Johnson 1, Kenneth Paap 1 ; 1 San Francisco State University, 2 University of Connecticut Executive functions (EFs) consist of a set of general-purpose control processes believed to be central to the self-regulation of thoughts and behaviors that are instrumental to accomplishing goals. EFs include components for inhibitory control, switching, monitoring, and updating. Method Introduction Results Executive Function References to our Earlier Work Tables and Figures Bilinguals have two lexicons that remain active even when the context strongly supports the intention to use only one of them (e.g., Brysbaert, 1998), necessitating a mechanism for maintaining separation between languages. If this mechanism (Green 1998) involves the same executive functions used in all domains, then bilinguals accrue massive amounts of practice that should generalize across cognitive domains and make them less vulnerable to interference in nonlinguistic tasks. The Bilingual Advantage Hypothesis Two Perspectives Relating Degree of Balance to Bilingual Advantages Perspective 1: Enhanced EF is directly related to the use of and proficiency acquired in L2. Highly proficient and balanced bilinguals should be best and monolinguals with little or no exposure to an L2 should be worst. From this perspective some of Paap & Greenberg’s bilinguals may not have been bilingual enough. Perspective 2: High levels of use and proficiency in both L1 and L2 lead to highly practiced and automatic language control mechanism. Thus, bilinguals with dominant L1’s rely more on cognitive control and this should lead to the greatest levels of EF enhancement. From this perspective some of Paap & Greenberg’s monolinguals may have been too bilingual. Tasks & Participants: 384 participants completed two to four of the following tasks: antisaccade, flanker, Simon, and color-shape switching. The four tasks are described in Paap and Greenberg (2013). Only Active bilinguals: 23 bilinguals who reported currently using English more than 94 percent of the time were removed Language switching: The median and modal scale value for switching was 3: “I usually switch from one language to the other a couple of times a day.” Proficiency: Listening and speaking skills were self-rated using this scale: 7 (Super Fluency, better than a typical native speaker); 6 (Fluent, as good as a typical native speaker); 5 (Near Fluency); 4 (Advanced Intermediate); 3 (Intermediate); 2 (Advanced Beginner); 1 (Beginner) and 0 (no exposure to an L2). Balance Groups: As shown in Table 1, Five groups were formed based on the L1/L2 ratio. The Hi Pro group is highly proficient (a 6 or 7) in both languages. Each successive group pairs a highly proficient L1 with a lower proficiency in L2. Paap, K. R. (2014). The role of componential analysis, categorical hypothesising, replicability and confirmation bias in testing for bilingual advantages in executive functioning. Journal of Cognitive Psychology. Paap, K. R., & Greenberg, Z. I. (2013). There is no coherent evidence for a bilingual advantage in executive processing. Cognitive Psychology, 66, Paap, K. R. & Liu, Y. (2014). Conflict resolution in sentence processing is the same for bilinguals and monolinguals: The role of confirmation bias in testing for bilingual advantages. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 27(1), Sawi, O., & Paap, K. (2013, April). Test–retest reliability and convergent validity of measures of executive processing: evidence from the Simon, flanker, switching, and antisaccade task. Poster presented at the meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, San Francisco, CA. There were no group differences in the magnitude of the flanker effect, switching costs, mixing costs, antisaccade costs (percent correct or RT) or global RT in either the Simon or flanker tasks. Thus, seven measures of EF show no support for a bilingual advantage in any bilingual group. However, the main effect of group on the Simon effect was significant, F(4, 374) = 3.29, p =.011. The highest proficiency group had the largest interference effect and the monolingual group- with no exposure to an L2 had the smallest. Not only is this a bilingual disadvantage, but the pattern is completely opposite the predictions of Perspective 1 that the high proficiency groups should be the best and the “pure” monolinguals the worst. Although the low proficiency bilinguals had smaller Simon effects than the high proficiency bilinguals this does not support Perspective 2 because the pure monolinguals had even smaller Simon effects. Differences in EF across groups based on relative proficiency of L1 to L2 Regression Analyses on Bilinguals Stepwise regression analyses were conducted on 10 different measures of EF in our database using the following four predictors: age-of-acquisition of L2, balance, percentage of English use, and parent’s educational level (PED). Only participants classified as bilingual (L1 and L2 proficiency ≥ 4) were included in these analyses. Only 3 of the 10 models were significant and each of those consisted of a single predictor. The regression model predicting the magnitude of the Simon effect was significant and balance was the only significant predictor; standardized β = +.19, t(161) = 2.45, p =.015. The positive β coefficient means that as the degree of balance increases the magnitude of the Simon effect increases. Thus, managing two languages with high proficiency is actually associated with larger interference effects. The regression analysis of the Simon effect is consistent with the group analysis. The other two significant models have age-of-acquisition as the sole significant predictor with one measure (mixing costs in the switching task) showing better EF scores for early bilinguals and the other (flanker interference effect) showing the opposite. Does Managing Three Languages Enhance EF? Yet another hypothesis is that having to manage three languages provides the greatest enhancement of EF. A separate independent groups (monolingual, bilingual, trilingual) ANOVA was performed on each of the measures of EF used in the previous analyses. Our composite database has 35 trilinguals with mean L1, L2, and L3 proficiencies of 6.7, 5.9, and 4.7, respectively. The main effect of group was not significant for 9 of the 10 measures, all p’s >.29. The magnitude of the Simon effect did significantly differ across groups, F(2, 376) = 3.85, p =.022; but as shown in the figure to the left there is a monolingual advantage (smaller Simon effect) over both bilinguals and trilinguals. Conclusion The highly proficient and balanced bilinguals in our composite database do not outperform other groups in the antisaccade, flanker, Simon, and switching tasks. Neither do trilinguals. These results complement those of Duñabeitia et al. (2014) using Basque-Spanish bilinguals and Gathercole et al. (2014) using Welsh-English bilinguals showing no advantages for bilinguals who are highly proficient, acquire both languages early, and reside in language communities where most people speak the same two languages and switching is ubiquitous. Furthermore these studies use a very large N, use multiple measures of EF, and test across a wide age range.


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