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Title: The effect of monolingualism, bilingualism and trilingualism on executive functioning in young and older adults
Author: Guðmundsdóttir, Margrét Dögg
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2015
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Bilinguals have been posited to have, compared to monolinguals, enhanced cognitive control, consequently exhibiting greater cognitive reserve, which is thought to subsequently delay the onset of clinical expression of dementia. Based on recent evidence suggesting that the more languages one manages the greater cognitive reserve, and that trilinguals undergo greater exercise in language control than bilinguals, this thesis investigated the effects of trilingualism and ageing on cognitive control, in young adults to older adults. As the thesis investigated the novel field of trilingualism and cognitive control, task complexity, the age of second and third language acquisition, language use, and physical and cognitive activity were also, importantly, assessed, as these are possible influencing factors in test performance. The participants completed several cognitive tasks; namely the Simon task, the Inhibition of return task, the Stroop task (inhibition) and the N-back task (working memory). The novel discovery of a trilingual (and bilingual) disadvantage was observed, which could explain some previous inconsistent findings in the bilingualism literature, where trilingualism may influence bilinguals’ test performance, as trilinguals and multilinguals are often mixed in with the bilingual group. Furthermore, the results suggest that second language acquisition and language use does not consistently predict performance in trilinguals (and bilinguals), nor does cognitive activity, although physical activity may modulate language group differences. Importantly, the results from this novel investigation of the effects of trilingualism and ageing on cognitive control suggest that trilingualism (and bilingualism) can, in some cases, be detrimental to cognitive control.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Monolingualism ; Bilingualism ; Trilingualism ; Bilingual advantage ; Executive function ; Ageing ; L2 acquisition ; Language use ; Hidden factors ; Coginitve control