Commentary Special Issues

Beyond Panglossian Optimism: Larger N2 Amplitudes Probably Signal a Bilingual Disadvantage in Conflict Monitoring

  • Received: 20 January 2015 Accepted: 20 January 2015 Published: 21 January 2015
  • In this special issue on the brain mechanisms that lead to cognitive benefits of bilingualism we discussed six reasons why it will be very difficult to discover those mechanisms. Many of these problems apply to the article by Fernandez, Acosta, Douglass, Doshi, and Tartar that also appears in the special issue. These concerns include the following: 1) an overly optimistic assessment of the replicability of bilingual advantages in behavioral studies, 2) reliance on risky small samples sizes, 3) failures to match the samples on demographic characteristics such as immigrant status, and 4) language group differences that occur in neural measures (i.e., N2 amplitude), but not in the behavioral data. Furthermore the N2 amplitude measure in general suffers from valence ambiguity: larger N2 amplitudes reported for bilinguals are more likely to reflect poorer conflict resolution rather than enhanced inhibitory control.

    Citation: Kenneth R. Paap, Oliver M. Sawi, Chirag Dalibar, Jack Darrow, Hunter A. Johnson. Beyond Panglossian Optimism: Larger N2 Amplitudes Probably Signal a Bilingual Disadvantage in Conflict Monitoring[J]. AIMS Neuroscience, 2015, 2(1): 1-6. doi: 10.3934/Neuroscience.2015.1.1

    Related Papers:

  • In this special issue on the brain mechanisms that lead to cognitive benefits of bilingualism we discussed six reasons why it will be very difficult to discover those mechanisms. Many of these problems apply to the article by Fernandez, Acosta, Douglass, Doshi, and Tartar that also appears in the special issue. These concerns include the following: 1) an overly optimistic assessment of the replicability of bilingual advantages in behavioral studies, 2) reliance on risky small samples sizes, 3) failures to match the samples on demographic characteristics such as immigrant status, and 4) language group differences that occur in neural measures (i.e., N2 amplitude), but not in the behavioral data. Furthermore the N2 amplitude measure in general suffers from valence ambiguity: larger N2 amplitudes reported for bilinguals are more likely to reflect poorer conflict resolution rather than enhanced inhibitory control.


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