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Previous research has found an advantage for bilinguals relative to monolinguals on tasks of attentional control. This advantage has been found to be larger in older adults than in young adults, suggesting that bilingualism provides a buffer against age-related declines in executive functioning. Using a computerized Stroop task in a nonimmigrant sample of young and older monolinguals and bilinguals, the current investigation tried to replicate previous findings of a bilingual advantage. A bilingual advantage would have been demonstrated by smaller Stroop interference (i.e., smaller increases in response time for incongruent than for neutral trials) for bilinguals than for monolinguals. The results showed that bilingual young adults showed a general speed advantage relative to their monolingual counterparts, but this was not associated with smaller Stroop interference. Older adults showed no effect of bilingualism. Thus, the present investigation does not find evidence of a bilingual advantage in young or older adults and suggests limits to the robustness and/or specificity of previous findings.


Shanna Kousaie, Natalie A Phillips. Ageing and bilingualism: absence of a "bilingual advantage" in stroop interference in a nonimmigrant sample. Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006). 2012;65(2):356-69

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PMID: 21936646

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