Bilingualism: Language and Cognition

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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (2010), 13:315-325 Cambridge University Press
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Research Article

The impact of bilingualism on the executive control and orienting networks of attention*


a1 Departament de Psicologia Bàsica, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
a2 ICREA & Departament de Tecnologies de la Informació i les Comunicacions, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
a3 Universidad de Murcia, Spain
a4 City Liberal Studies: Affiliated Institution of the University of Sheffield, Thessaloniki, Greece
a5 Departament de Tecnologies de la Informació i les Comunicacions, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
Article author query
hernández m [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
costa a [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
fuentes lj [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
vivas ab [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
sebastián-gallés n [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]


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)


c1 Address for correspondence: Albert Costa, Universitat Pompeu Fabra – Dept. Technology (1st floor), C. Roc Boronat 138, Barcelona 08018, SPAIN


* 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.