Bilingualism increases neural response consistency and attentional control: Evidence for sensory and cognitive coupling

Jennifer Krizman, Erika Skoe, Viorica Marian, Nina Kraus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations

Abstract

Auditory processing is presumed to be influenced by cognitive processes – including attentional control – in a top-down manner. In bilinguals, activation of both languages during daily communication hones inhibitory skills, which subsequently bolster attentional control. We hypothesize that the heightened attentional demands of bilingual communication strengthens connections between cognitive (i.e., attentional control) and auditory processing, leading to greater across-trial consistency in the auditory evoked response (i.e., neural consistency) in bilinguals. To assess this, we collected passively-elicited auditory evoked responses to the syllable [da] in adolescent Spanish-English bilinguals and English monolinguals and separately obtained measures of attentional control and language ability. Bilinguals demonstrated enhanced attentional control and more consistent brainstem and cortical responses. In bilinguals, but not monolinguals, brainstem consistency tracked with language proficiency and attentional control. We interpret these enhancements in neural consistency as the outcome of strengthened attentional control that emerged from experience communicating in two languages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-40
JournalBrain & Language
Volume128
StatePublished - 2014

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