Bilingualism and the increased attentional blink effect: evidence that the difference between bilinguals and monolinguals generalizes to different levels of second language proficiency
The attentional blink task involves rapid serial presentation of visual stimuli, two of which the participants have to report. The usual finding is that participants are impaired at reporting the second target if it appears in close temporal proximity to the first target. Previous research has shown that the effect is stronger in bilinguals than monolinguals. We investigated whether the difference between monolinguals and proficient bilinguals can be extended to bilinguals of different proficiency levels. Therefore, we replicated the paradigm in a large sample of Hindi–English bilinguals with different proficiency levels of English, as measured with a validated vocabulary test. We additionally measured the participants’ intelligence with the raven progressive matrices. We found that the size of the attentional blink effect correlates with the degree of second language proficiency and not with the degree of intelligence. This indicates that research on executive control functions can be done with bilinguals of different proficiency levels. Our results are also in line with recent findings showing that the attentional blink effect is not primarily due to limited processing resources.
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