Are bilinguals better learners?: A neurocognitive investigation of the bilingual advantage

Open Access
Author:
Bogulski, Cari Anne
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
July 23, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Judith Fran Kroll, Dissertation Advisor
  • Judith Fran Kroll, Committee Chair
  • Paola Eulalia Dussias, Committee Member
  • Adriana Van Hell, Committee Member
  • Daniel J Weiss, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • bilingualism
  • vocabulary learning
  • cognitive control
  • ERP
Abstract:
The general cognitive consequences of bilingualism is a recent topic of intense research interest. A large body of evidence has suggested that bilinguals exhibit several cognitive advantages over matched monolinguals (see Bialystok, Craik, Green, & Gollan, 2009, for a review), including several subdomains of executive function, such as attentional mechanisms, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. Though the extent to which this is true for all previously identified affected aspects of cognition for all types of bilinguals is not yet well known, the precise mechanism underlying such advantages is perhaps even less well understood. In addition, a less well-studied bilingual advantage in foreign language vocabulary learning has been identified for bilinguals, and the origins of this advantage are even less well understood. Perhaps more importantly, the idea that bilinguals may be advantaged at learning more generally has not yet been pursued in the research literature. This dissertation aims not only to better understand the extent and limitations of both of these types of bilingual advantages, but also to investigate how they may or may not be independent from one another, as well as the possibility that bilinguals may have advantages for multiple types of new learning, which may or may not be independent of the advantages in executive function.