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Poster A120

Beyond Words: Bilingual Experience Modulates Executive Function Development in Preschool-Aged Children

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Sally Sade1 (, Scott Rathwell1, Bryan Kolb1, Claudia Gonzalez1, Robbin Gibb1; 1University of Lethbridge

Despite the prevalence of bilingualism, its cognitive impact on young children remains a subject of ongoing debate. Early studies of child bilingualism led to the belief that second language use was a social plague and detrimental to intelligence. More recent studies have focused on the influence of bilingualism on higher-level cognitive processes regulating emotions and behavior, known as executive function (EF), yielding conflicting findings. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of bilingualism on EF skills in 3-5-year-old children. To do this, children were assessed using a comprehensive battery of tests of EF, language, social competency, and motor function. EF evaluation included tasks such as grasp-to-construct, animal Stroop, Dimensional Change Card Sort, and backward digit span. Language was assessed through the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, social competency through dyadic social play with LEGO and motor ability via grasp-to-construct and Froot Loops task. Caregivers completed subjective surveys which include the Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function in Preschoolers (BRIEF-P), Language Experience and Proficiency Questionnaire, Ages and Stages Questionnaire, and the Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire. The results showed better EF performance among bilingual children during the Dimensional Change Card Sort and social competency in the dyadic social play with LEGO. Notable distinctions were also observed in emotional control, flexibility, and inhibitory self-control as indicated by the BRIEF-P. These findings support the idea that bilingualism may elicit experience-dependent brain plasticity beyond language-specific processes.



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April 13–16  |  2024