THE EFFECTS OF BILINGUALISM IN SPATIAL AND VERBAL WORKING MEMORY OF COLLEGE STUDENTS

Authors: Rosaury Hernandez, Yasmine Ouchikh, Vivien Tarter, Sophia Barrett and Robert Melara. Faculty Mentor: Robert Melara and Sophia Barrett Department: Psychology Institution: The City College of New York 160 convent avenue, New York, NY 10031

Numerous studies have investigated the role of bilingualism on performance of executive control tasks. Bilinguals outperform monolinguals on both visual executive control tasks and mental flexibility tasks (Costa, Hernandez, Sebastián-Gallés 2009; Bialystok, 2009). On one account, when bilinguals employ L1 they must simultaneously inhibit L2 (Bialystok, 2009; Martin-Rhee & Bialystok 2008), and vice-versa, leading to an advantage relative to monolinguals in both switching and inhibitory control. The preponderance of research on the bilingual advantage has focused on the visual modality. Yet research with speech-in-noise tasks suggests a bilingual disadvantage. In the current study we investigated the role of bilingualism on auditory executive control. Participants completed auditory versions of the Simon task, the Eriksen flanker task (target tone preceded and followed by irrelevant flanker tones), the speech-in-noise task and a visual and verbal working memory task. To equate language demands in working memory, bilingual participants were administered the digit span in both L1 and L2; to diminish the lexical disadvantage responses in digit span were written. We found that (1) bilinguals outperformed monolinguals on the visual but not the verbal working memory task, (2) bilinguals edged monolinguals on the Simon task but performed worse that monolinguals on the flanker task, (3) bilinguals performed worse that monolinguals on the speech-in-noise task. The results indicate that the bilingual advantage does not extend to executive control tasks that require the inhibition of sequential auditory information held in working memory, such as the auditory flanker task or the speech-in-noise task. One implication is that bilinguals have relatively good visual working memory but poor executive control over verbal working memory.


Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Rosaury Hernandez

Institution: The City College of New York,CUNY

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Year: 2016