INHIBITORY CONTROL IN THE BILINGUAL BRAIN:
Testing the Bilingual Advantage Hypothesis
Jimena Santillan, a graduate student in the UO Department of Psychology, received a 2013 CLLAS Graduate Student Research Grant for his project, “Bilingualism and Cognitive Conflict Resolution.”
Jimena’s research explores the proposed hypothesis that when bilinguals want to produce one of the two languages they speak, the non-target language has to be inhibited in order to produce the target language. This is the basis for the bilingual advantage hypothesis, the idea that bilinguals enjoy an advantage in inhibitory control. To date, multiple studies testing this hypothesis have yielded inconsistent evidence. The study I will be presenting on brought the tools of cognitive neuroscience to bear on this question. Taking advantage of the high temporal resolution of the event-related potential (ERP) technique, which allows to record and measure in real time electrical brain activity, this study examines whether there are differences between English monolinguals and Spanish-English bilinguals in very early stages of inhibitory control processing.