Audio-visual object search is changed by bilingual experience

Sarah Chabal*, Scott R. Schroeder, Viorica Marian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The current study examined the impact of language experience on the ability to efficiently search for objects in the face of distractions. Monolingual and bilingual participants completed an ecologically-valid, object-finding task that contained conflicting, consistent, or neutral auditory cues. Bilinguals were faster than monolinguals at locating the target item, and eye movements revealed that this speed advantage was driven by bilinguals’ ability to overcome interference from visual distractors and focus their attention on the relevant object. Bilinguals fixated the target object more often than did their monolingual peers, who, in contrast, attended more to a distracting image. Moreover, bilinguals’, but not monolinguals’, object-finding ability was positively associated with their executive control ability. We conclude that bilinguals’ executive control advantages extend to real-world visual processing and object finding within a multi-modal environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2684-2693
Number of pages10
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Attention and executive control
  • Eye movements and visual attention
  • Visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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