EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship

Bilingualism and age are continuous variables that influence executive function

Sara Incera, Cleveland State University


We analyzed the effects of bilingualism and age on executive function. We examined these variables along a continuum, as opposed to dichotomizing them. We investigated the impact that bilingualism and age have on two measures of executive control (Stroop and Flanker). The mouse-tracking paradigm allowed us to examine the continuous dynamics of the responses as participants completed each trial. First, we found that the Stroop effect was reduced with younger age and higher levels of bilingualism; however, no Bilingualism by Age interaction emerged. Second, after controlling for baseline, the Flanker effect was not influenced by bilingualism or age. These results support the notion that bilingualism is one way of enhancing some aspects of executive function – specifically those related to the Stroop task – across the adult life span. In sum, different levels of bilingualism, and different ages, result in varying degrees of executive function as measured by the Stroop task.