Inhibitory Control and Working Memory in Bilingual Children

Dr. Andy Pham

Florida International University

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to examine mathematical and executive skills among monolingual and bilingual children. By examining specific executive functioning processes between monolingual and bilingual children, we investigated whether bilingual children demonstrate higher executive functioning than monolingual children due to the exposure of dual languages. As stated in our study proposal, we asked three primary research questions:

  1. Do bilingual children demonstrate better inhibitory control and/or working memory skills compared to monolingual children? We hypothesized that bilingual children will demonstrate higher performance in both inhibitory control and working memory as supported in previous literature.
  2. Does language proficiency mediate the relation between executive functioning and math problem-solving? We hypothesize that executive functioning will have an indirect effect to math problem-solving through language proficiency, suggesting a mediation effect.
  3. Are parent ratings of impulsivity highly related to commission errors on continuous performance tests? Because there has been limited evidence on the convergent validity of both measures, we would expect to find a low correlation.

We gathered data from 141 participants (80 monolingual, 61 bilingual). Initial findings indicate no significant differences between performance on executive functioning tasks (TOVA) and mathematical tasks (WJ-IV Achievement) between monolingual and bilingual children, t (5) = 14.89, p = .235. However, regression analyses indicate a significant relation between working memory and overall math achievement F (5, 136) = 5.31, p = .025. Response inhibition only predicted

mathematical problem-solving F (5, 136) = 8.92, p = .031, and fluency tasks F (5, 136) = 9.77, p = .018. There were also low correlations between parent ratings on the BRIEF including Plan/Organize and Organization of Materials with TOVA measures including omission errors, commission errors and reaction time.