Edited by Ellen Bialystok and Margot D. Sullivan
[Studies in Bilingualism 53] 2017
► pp. 9–20
Chapter 2. Cognitive problems in older adults
Can bilingualism help?
This chapter reviews the negative effects of aging on many cognitive functions and contrasts these results with the positive effects found for bilingualism on some of these functions, notably on processes of cognitive control. Such findings prompt the question of whether bilingualism may offset the negative effects of aging on attentional control; studies providing evidence for this conjecture are then discussed. Bilingual participants typically outperform monolinguals on tasks involving working memory and executive functions, although other studies show a bilingual disadvantage on verbal tasks. Finally, it is suggested that the beneficial effects of bilingualism on cognitive aging may be restricted to bilinguals who use their two languages in particular contexts.
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