The main objective of this article is to provide new evidence regarding the impact of bilingualism on the attentional system. We approach this goal by assessing the effects of bilingualism on the executive and orienting networks of attention. In Experiment 1, we compared young bilingual and monolingual adults in a numerical version of the Stroop task, which allowed the assessment of the executive control network. We observed more efficient performance in the former group, which showed both reduced Stroop Interference and larger Stroop Facilitation Effects relative to the latter. Conversely, Experiment 2, conducted with a visual cueing task in order to assess the orienting network, revealed similar Cueing Facilitation and Inhibition (Inhibition of Return – IOR) Effects for both groups of speakers. The implications of the results of these two experiments for the origin and boundaries of the bilingual impact on the attentional system are discussed.
(Received March 09 2009)
(Revised April 02 2009)
(Accepted April 03 2009)
(Online publication May 04 2010)
* This research was supported by three grants from the Spanish Government (SEJ-2005/SEJ2005-01223/CONSOLIDER-INGENIO) and grants PSIC and PSI2008-00464/PSIC, as well as by the “ICREA Academia” prize for excellence in research awarded by the Generalitat de Catalunya to N.S.G. Mireia Hernández was supported by a pre-doctoral fellowship from the Catalan Government. The authors are grateful to Dr. Bialystok, Ms. Ivanova and Ms. Aalia Chatur for their comments on previous versions of this manuscript.