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Psychol Sci. 2012;23(11):1364-71. doi: 10.1177/0956797612443836. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

Bilingualism enriches the poor: enhanced cognitive control in low-income minority children.

Author information

1
Educational Measurement and Applied Cognitive Science Research Unit, University of Luxembourg. pascale.engel@uni.lu

Abstract

This study explores whether the cognitive advantage associated with bilingualism in executive functioning extends to young immigrant children challenged by poverty and, if it does, which specific processes are most affected. In the study reported here, 40 Portuguese-Luxembourgish bilingual children from low-income immigrant families in Luxembourg and 40 matched monolingual children from Portugal completed visuospatial tests of working memory, abstract reasoning, selective attention, and interference suppression. Two broad cognitive factors of executive functioning-representation (abstract reasoning and working memory) and control (selective attention and interference suppression)-emerged from principal component analysis. Whereas there were no group differences in representation, the bilinguals performed significantly better than did the monolinguals in control. These results demonstrate, first, that the bilingual advantage is neither confounded with nor limited by socioeconomic and cultural factors and, second, that separable aspects of executive functioning are differentially affected by bilingualism. The bilingual advantage lies in control but not in visuospatial representational processes.

PMID:
23044796
PMCID:
PMC4070309
DOI:
10.1177/0956797612443836
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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