Multilingual Stroop performance: Effects of trilingualism and proficiency on inhibitory control

Viorica Marian*, Henrike K. Blumenfeld, Elena Mizrahi, Ursula Kania, Anne Kristin Cordes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Previous research suggests that multilinguals' languages are constantly co-activated and that experience managing this co-activation changes inhibitory control function. The present study examined language interaction and inhibitory control using a colour-word Stroop task. Multilingual participants were tested in their three most proficient languages. The classic Stroop effect was detected in all three languages, with participants performing more accurately on congruent than on incongruent trials. Multilinguals were faster and more accurate in the within-language-competition condition than in the between-language-competition condition, indicating that additional processing costs are required when stimulus and response languages differ. Language proficiency influenced speed, accuracy and error patterns in multilingual Stroop task performance. These findings augment our understanding of language processing and inhibitory control in multilingual populations and suggest that experience using multiple languages changes demands on cognitive function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-104
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013


  • Stroop task
  • cognitive control
  • multilingualism
  • proficiency
  • within- and between-language interference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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