2. Webinar zum Thema "Language experience changes executive functions: Evidence from multilingual and monolingual children"

Gregory J. Poarch, PhD  vom Department für Englische Linguistik der University Tübingen wird am 24.03.2015 um 10 Uhr das zweite Webinar des Schwerpunktes halten.  


There is converging evidence of enhanced executive functions (EF) in conflict resolution tasks (e.g., Simon Task, Flanker Task) for child, adult, and elderly bilinguals compared to age-matched monolinguals (Kroll & Bialystok, 2013). It is assumed that enhanced executive functions/cognitive control in bilinguals stems from their more or less permanent need to monitor, control, and shift between two languages. However, recent debate has hinted at confounds related to, amongst others, different socio-economic backgrounds of the bilingual and monolingual groups tested (Hilchey & Klein, 2011). The main studies presented in this webinar (Poarch & Van Hell, 2012; Poarch & Bialystok, 2014) investigated whether possible differences between bilinguals and monolinguals in executive functioning are also evident in second language learners, partial bilinguals, and trilingual children, critically, when the participating children are matched on socio-economic background. The children completed the Simon Task and/or the Flanker task, which are executive functions tasks assumed to tap into various EF components: task monitoring, selective attention, inhibition, and conflict resolution. The obtained results will be discussed with a special focus on possible SES differences and which EF components are affected differentially between groups. Furthermore, we will briefly look at recent studies reporting no group differences in EF task performance. Finally, we will ask how much bilingual experience is necessary before any cognitive advantages particularly in the inhibitory component of executive control become apparent (see also Van Hell & Poarch, 2014) and whether sustained processing of three languages yields any additional cognitive benefit over processing only two languages.


Hilchey, M. & Klein, R. (2011). Are there bilingual advantages on nonlinguistic interference tasks? Implications for the plasticity of executive control processes. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 18, 625–658.

Kroll, J. F., & Bialystok, E. (2013). Understanding the consequences of bilingualism for language processing and cognition. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25(5), 497–514.

Poarch, G. J., & Bialystok, E. (2014). Bilingualism as a model for multitasking. Developmental Review. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2014.12.003

Poarch, G. J., & Van Hell, J. G. (2012). Executive functions and inhibitory control in multilingual children: Evidence from second language learners, bilinguals, and trilinguals. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 113(4), 535–551.

Van Hell, J. G., & Poarch, G. J. (2014). How much bilingual experience is needed to affect executive control? Applied Psycholinguistics, 35(5), 925–928. 

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(26.02.2015, ah)