Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 255–268 | Cite as

Neuropsychological, Cognitive, and Theoretical Considerations for Evaluation of Bilingual Individuals

  • Monica Rivera Mindt
  • Alyssa Arentoft
  • Kaori Kubo Germano
  • Erica D’Aquila
  • Diane Scheiner
  • Maria Pizzirusso
  • Tiffany C. Sandoval
  • Tamar H. Gollan


As the number of bilinguals in the USA grows rapidly, it is increasingly important for neuropsychologists to be equipped and trained to address the unique challenges inherent in conducting ethical and competent neuropsychological evaluations with this population. Research on bilingualism has focused on two key cognitive mechanisms that introduce differences between bilinguals and monolinguals: (a) reduced frequency of language-specific use (weaker links), and (b) competition for selection within the language system in bilinguals (interference). Both mechanisms are needed to explain how bilingualism affects neuropsychological test performance, including the robust bilingual disadvantages found on verbal tasks, and more subtle bilingual advantages on some measures of cognitive control. These empirical results and theoretical claims can be used to derive a theoretically informed method for assessing cognitive status in bilinguals. We present specific considerations for measuring degree of bilingualism for both clients and examiners to aid in determinations of approaches to testing bilinguals, with practical guidelines for incorporating models of bilingualism and recent experimental data into neuropsychological evaluations. This integrated approach promises to provide improved clinical services for bilingual clients, and will also contribute to a program of research that will ultimately reveal the mechanisms underlying language processing and executive functioning in bilinguals and monolinguals alike.


Bilingual Assessment Racial/ethnic minorities Cognitive Neuropsychological 



The authors wish to thank Drs. Mariana Cherner and Jennifer Manly for their editorial assistance with this manuscript. This research was supported by a K23 from NIMH (K23MH07971801) and an Early Career Development Award from the Northeast Consortium for Minority Faculty Development, both awarded to Monica Rivera Mindt; and by an R01 from NICHD (HD050287) awarded to Tamar H. Gollan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monica Rivera Mindt
    • 1
    • 3
  • Alyssa Arentoft
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kaori Kubo Germano
    • 1
    • 2
  • Erica D’Aquila
    • 1
    • 2
  • Diane Scheiner
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maria Pizzirusso
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tiffany C. Sandoval
    • 4
    • 5
  • Tamar H. Gollan
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyFordham UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyThe Mount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Pathology & PsychiatryThe Mount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA

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