Measuring Two Types of Inhibitory Control in Bilinguals and Trilinguals: Is There a Trilingual Advantage?
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Several studies have observed a bilingual advantage in non-linguistic cognitive tasks. Even as the replicability of these findings is debated, there is much evidence to suggest that the bilinguals’ constant exertion to manage information from two active linguistic systems enhances the basic inhibitory control functions in bilinguals compared to monolinguals. The study extends this inquiry with trilinguals and tests the hypothesis that a trilingual advantage in inhibitory control would be observed in more cognitively demanding control tasks—tasks that involve both response inhibition and interference suppression. A sample of Filipino-English bilinguals and a sample of Chabacano-Filipino-English trilinguals in the Philippines were assessed for their bilingual and trilingual language proficiencies and later asked to complete a series of Simon arrow tasks. The results show that trilinguals were more accurate and efficient than bilinguals in the trials that involve interference suppression and response inhibition, but this advantage was negligible in trials involving only response inhibition.
KeywordsBilingualism Trilingualism Inhibitory control Cognitive advantage Simon arrow task
This research was supported by a scholarship grant from Commission on Higher Education, Republic of the Philippines, and a dissertation grant from Language Learning: A Journal of Research in Language Studies given to the first author. The authors thank Dr. Adrianne John R. Galang and Dr. Claire Madrazo for technical assistance in conducting the study, Mr. Eric Asinas and Mrs Racquel B. Asinas for additional financial assistance, and Pilar Caparas, Janet Paster, Cherry Rose Madrazo and Thom de Borja for various forms of research assistance.
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