Edited by Gigi Luk, John A.E. Anderson and John G. Grundy
[Studies in Bilingualism 64] 2023
► pp. 245–271
Electroencephalogram (EEG) has been instrumental in research examining the effects of bilingualism on cognition, and much of this research has been inspired and spearheaded by Ellen Bialystok. In this chapter, we explore recent developments in EEG research that highlight the complexity of the bilingual experience and its impact on domain-general cognitive outcomes. First, even in the absence of behavioral differences, ERP studies consistently show that bilinguals are more efficient at processing information than monolinguals on executive function tasks. Second, resting-state EEG studies demonstrate a link between several brain frequency bands (e.g. beta waves) and learning outcomes during second-language acquisition. Third, recent advances in EEG techniques have demonstrated that brain signal complexity is more than just noise, and that greater complexity is associated with better performance. Preliminary evidence suggests that bilingualism modifies brain signal complexity in regions associated with automatic processing. Finally, there is a recent shift to focus more on attentional than inhibitory mechanisms, and on continuous rather than dichotomous classifications of bilingualism, in assessing how bilingualism affects executive function processing in the brain. The final section concludes with several recommendations and future directions for EEG studies to investigate how language experience impacts the neural correlates of attentional control.