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Executive control in fluent and lapsed bilinguals*



Previous research showing a bilingual advantage on a variety of executive control tasks has typically compared monolinguals and fluent bilinguals. No study to date, however, has examined whether these effects endure for bilingual individuals who revert to monolingualism (‘lapsed bilinguals’). We investigated this question by testing monolinguals, full bilinguals, and lapsed bilinguals on a flanker task and a working memory task. Fully fluent bilinguals exhibited significantly more accurate performance than monolinguals on the working memory task, with lapsed bilinguals performing between the other two groups. Thus, continued bilingual experience appears necessary to maintain these cognitive advantages at a high level.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Ellen Bialystok Department of Psychology York University 4700 Keele Street Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3 Canada


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This research was funded by grant A2559 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to EB. We thank Kornelia Hawrylewicz and Deanna Friesen for their assistance in this study.



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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
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