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The present study aimed to examine if bilingualism affects executive functions and verbal fluency in Marathi and Hindi, two major languages in India, with a considerable cognate (e.g., activity is actividad in Spanish) overlap. A total of 174 native Marathi speakers from Pune, India, with varying levels of Hindi proficiency were administered tests of executive functioning and verbal performance in Marathi. A bilingualism index was generated using self-reported Hindi and Marathi proficiency. After controlling for demographic variables, the association between bilingualism and cognitive performance was examined. Degree of bilingualism predicted better performance on the switching (Color Trails-2) and inhibition (Stroop Color-Word) components of executive functioning; but not for the abstraction component (Halstead Category Test). In the verbal domain, bilingualism was more closely associated with noun generation (where the languages share many cognates) than verb generation (which are more disparate across these languages), as predicted. However, contrary to our hypothesis that the bilingualism "disadvantage" would be attenuated on noun generation, bilingualism was associated with an advantage on these measures. These findings suggest distinct patterns of bilingualism effects on cognition for this previously unexamined language pair, and that the rate of cognates may modulate the association between bilingualism and verbal performance on neuropsychological tests.

Citation

Rujvi Kamat, Manisha Ghate, Tamar H Gollan, Rachel Meyer, Florin Vaida, Robert K Heaton, Scott Letendre, Donald Franklin, Terry Alexander, Igor Grant, Sanjay Mehendale, Thomas D Marcotte, HIV Neurobehavioral Research Program (HNRP) Group. Effects of Marathi-Hindi bilingualism on neuropsychological performance. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS. 2012 Mar;18(2):305-13

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PMID: 22206622

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