Domain-general electrophysiological changes associated with bilingualism

John G. Grundy, Ashley Chung-Fat-Yim

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Electroencephalogram (EEG) has been instrumental in research examining the effects of bilingualism on cognition, and much of this research has been inspired and spearheaded by Ellen Bialystok. In this chapter, we explore recent developments in EEG research that highlight the complexity of the bilingual experience and its impact on domain-general cognitive outcomes. First, even in the absence of behavioral differences, ERP studies consistently show that bilinguals are more efficient at processing information than monolinguals on executive function tasks. Second, resting-state EEG studies demonstrate a link between several brain frequency bands (e.g. beta waves) and learning outcomes during second-language acquisition. Third, recent advances in EEG techniques have demonstrated that brain signal complexity is more than just noise, and that greater complexity is associated with better performance. Preliminary evidence suggests that bilingualism modifies brain signal complexity in regions associated with automatic processing. Finally, there is a recent shift to focus more on attentional than inhibitory mechanisms, and on continuous rather than dichotomous classifications of bilingualism, in assessing how bilingualism affects executive function processing in the brain. The final section concludes with several recommendations and future directions for EEG studies to investigate how language experience impacts the neural correlates of attentional control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStudies in Bilingualism
EditorsGigi Luk, John A.E. Anderson, John G. Grundy
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages27
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NameStudies in Bilingualism
ISSN (Print)0928-1533

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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