Does learning a language in the elderly enhance switching ability?

Ramos, Sara and Fernández García, Yuriem and Antón, Eneko and Casaponsa, Aina and Duñabeitia, Jon Andoni (2017) Does learning a language in the elderly enhance switching ability? Journal of Neurolinguistics, 43 (Part A). pp. 39-48. ISSN 0911-6044

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The bilingual advantage has been subject of research repeatedly over the last decade. Many studies have supported the idea of the existence of a higher functioning in domain general cognitive abilities among bilingual samples as compared to monolingual samples. However, this idea has been recently challenged by a number of scholars, and a recent body of evidence suggests that the acquisition of a new language does not necessarily involve an enhancement of domain-general non-linguistic abilities. In the current study we aimed at exploring the relationship between language learning and switching ability in elderly monolingual participants who learned a second language during a whole academic year. A colour-shape switching task was used as a measure of switching ability and was administered twice in a pre-test/post-test design, both to the critical group of seniors attending a language-learning course on a regular basis and to a group of age-matched monolingual seniors who did not attend to any language-learning course and that served as controls. Results showed that switching costs in the post-test were not significantly different from those in the pre-test in either the experimental or the control groups, demonstrating that the acquisition of a second language in the elderly does not necessarily lead to an enhancement of switching ability as measured by switching costs. We acknowledge the need of further longitudinal L2 training studies to reach clear conclusions on the effects of language learning in domain-general executive control.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Neurolinguistics
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Neurolinguistics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Neurolinguistics, 43, Part A, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.jneuroling.2016.09.001
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? switchingcognitive reservebilingualismsecond language acquisitionlanguage learningbilingual advantagecognitive flexibilitylinguistics and languagecognitive neuroscienceexperimental and cognitive psychology ??
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Deposited On:
18 May 2017 14:02
Last Modified:
20 Jan 2024 00:17