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Speaking Two Languages Enhances an Auditory but Not a Visual Neural Marker of Cognitive Inhibition

Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 33314 USA

Special Issues: What are the mechanisms that occur in the brain that lead to the cognitive benefits of bilingualism and enriched environments?

The purpose of the present study was to replicate and extend our original findings of enhanced neural inhibitory control in bilinguals. We compared English monolinguals to Spanish/English bilinguals on a non-linguistic, auditory Go/NoGo task while recording event-related brain potentials. New to this study was the visual Go/NoGo task, which we included to investigate whether enhanced neural inhibition in bilinguals extends from the auditory to the visual modality. Results confirmed our original findings and revealed greater inhibition in bilinguals compared to monolinguals. As predicted, compared to monolinguals, bilinguals showed increased N2 amplitude during the auditory NoGo trials, which required inhibitory control, but no differences during the Go trials, which required a behavioral response and no inhibition. Interestingly, during the visual Go/NoGo task, event related brain potentials did not distinguish the two groups, and behavioral responses were similar between the groups regardless of task modality. Thus, only auditory trials that required inhibitory control revealed between-group differences indicative of greater neural inhibition in bilinguals. These results show that experience-dependent neural changes associated with bilingualism are specific to the auditory modality and that the N2 event-related brain potential is a sensitive marker of this plasticity.
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Copyright Info: © 2014, Mercedes Fernandez, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

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