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Bridget Killmurray, Sarah Bayer, Kathleen Siren, Ph.D.

The Relationship between Bilingualism and Multitasking

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Recent research has found that bilingual individuals are more likely to have greater brain development in varying regions  of the brain as compared to monolingual individuals (García-Pentón et. al., 2014). Through MRI technology, García-Pentón et. al. (2014) found that two subnetworks were more linked in bilingual individuals as compared to those who speak one language. These subnetworks were mostly within the left hemisphere, further indicating a clear connection to language processing (García-Pentón et. al., 2014). Further research has also found that linguistic multitasking may be related to understanding of other dual task situations (Poarch & Bialystok, 2015).

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between bilingualism and multitasking, specifically addressing if individuals who are bilingual have increased accuracy on a Stroop Task. To examine this, two groups, one being bilingual, and the other monolingual will complete a Stroop Task to test their ability to manage the competing stimuli which is controlled by executive functioning skills. We hypothesize that the bilingual group will outperform the monolingual group. The first step of the study is to group participants through the use of a survey which includes questions such as “when did you learn each language that you speak?” and “did this occur simultaneously or sequentially?” These answers will determine their placement into the monolingual and bilingual groups. Each participant will individually complete the Stroop Task which follows these procedures: The participant will be shown a color word such as red, green, blue, which will be filled in with a differing color (red will be written in blue). The participant will have to ignore the written word and respond with the ink color. For example, the word “Red” written in blue would have the correct response of blue. Responses will be recorded and then later analyzed and compared between the two groups. 


García-Pentón, L., Pérez Fernández, A., Iturria-Medina, Y., Gillon-Dowens, M., & Carreiras, M. (2014). Anatomical connectivity changes in the bilingual brain. NeuroImage, 84, 495–504.

Poarch, G. J., & Bialystok, E. (2015). Bilingualism as a model for multitasking. Developmental Review, 35, 113–124.

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