The Multifaceted Nature of Bilingualism and Attention

Ashley Chung-Fat-Yim, Noelia Calvo, John G. Grundy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Attention has recently been proposed as the mechanism underlying the cognitive effects associated with bilingualism. However, similar to bilingualism, the term attention is complex, dynamic, and can vary from one activity to another. Throughout our daily lives, we use different types of attention that differ in complexity: sustained attention, selective attention, alternating attention, divided attention, and disengagement of attention. The present paper is a focused review summarizing the results from studies that explore the link between bilingualism and attention. For each level of attention, a brief overview of relevant theoretical models will be discussed along with a spotlight on paradigms and tasks used to measure these forms of attention. The findings illustrate that different types and levels of attention are modified by the variety of bilingual experiences. Future studies wishing to examine the effects of bilingualism on attention are encouraged to embrace the complexity and diversity of both constructs rather than making global claims about bilingualism and attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number910382
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - Jun 3 2022


  • attention
  • bilingualism
  • cognition
  • executive control
  • language experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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