Factors in cognitive control in Stroop performance among early French-English bilinguals in Montreal

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2023-04-25

Authors

Dorsey, Rachel

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No single purported factor has been found to consistently explain differences in cognitive control (CC) performance among bilinguals, and researchers have begun to account for diverse bilingual experiences which logically lead to differences in CC capacity. This dissertation investigates modulating factors in CC performance among early French-English bilinguals in Montreal. The present study expands on work by Sabourin and Vīnerte (2015) by investigating Language Proficiencies, Language Dominance, Code-switching Tendencies, Age of Immersion (AoI) and Task-difficulty in an effort to better understand how one’s specific bilingual ecology modulates CC performance on three separate Stroop tasks. Findings indicate processing differences between early Sequential and Simultaneous bilinguals in the Montreal community that may have gone overlooked had these two groups been combined into a singular “early” AoI age group. Specifically, results reveal that Sequential bilinguals outperform their Simultaneous counterparts in terms of inhibition as well as general processing as evidenced by significantly faster reaction times on two single-language Stroop tasks in addition to performing significantly fewer Stroop task errors overall. The Simultaneous bilinguals, however, experienced a facilitation effect on the higher difficulty mixed-language Stroop task. This, I argue stems from these two different acquisition experiences which allow for CC to be honed to variable degrees. Additionally, chronological age, English history, and the dual-language code-switching environment were also predictive of CC performance. Finally, different results were obtained in the present study in comparison to Sabourin and Vīnerte (2015) even when mirroring experimental procedures and investigating early bilinguals by comparing Simultaneous to Sequential bilinguals. Such findings support an experiential account in which a bilingual’s specific ecology, interactional contexts, and language habits contribute to the honing of CC over time, and thus, superior CC performance (Beatty-Martinez & Titone, 2021; DeLuca et al., 2019; Gullifer & Titone, 2020).

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