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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 21;106(16):6556-60. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0811323106. Epub 2009 Apr 13.

Cognitive gains in 7-month-old bilingual infants.

Author information

  • 1Cognitive Neuroscience Sector, Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, Via Beirut 4, 34014 Trieste, Italy. agneskovacs@mtapi.hu

Abstract

Children exposed to bilingual input typically learn 2 languages without obvious difficulties. However, it is unclear how preverbal infants cope with the inconsistent input and how bilingualism affects early development. In 3 eye-tracking studies we show that 7-month-old infants, raised with 2 languages from birth, display improved cognitive control abilities compared with matched monolinguals. Whereas both monolinguals and bilinguals learned to respond to a speech or visual cue to anticipate a reward on one side of a screen, only bilinguals succeeded in redirecting their anticipatory looks when the cue began signaling the reward on the opposite side. Bilingual infants rapidly suppressed their looks to the first location and learned the new response. These findings show that processing representations from 2 languages leads to a domain-general enhancement of the cognitive control system well before the onset of speech.

PMID:
19365071
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2672482
Free PMC Article

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