Edited by Ellen Bialystok and Margot D. Sullivan
[Studies in Bilingualism 53] 2017
► pp. 161–183
Chapter 8. Executive control processes in verbal and nonverbal working memory
The role of aging and bilingualism
Studies across the lifespan have revealed modifications in executive control (EC) from bilingualism, but studies of working memory (WM), a key aspect of EC, have produced varied results. Healthy older (M = 71.0 years) and younger participants (M = 21.1 years) who were monolingual or bilingual, performed working memory tasks that varied in their demands for EC. Tasks included a star counting task, a flanker task, and a nonverbal recent probe memory task. Bilinguals performed similarly to monolinguals on the star counting task after controlling for differences in vocabulary. Monolinguals were faster than bilinguals on the flanker task with only age group differences significant for the WM manipulation. Bilinguals were faster than monolinguals on the nonverbal recent probe memory task, particularly for the condition that included proactive interference. The interpretation is that better bilingual performance in nonverbal working memory tasks is linked to the need for executive control.