Previous work has shown that bilingualism is associated with more effective controlled processing in children; the assumption is that the constant management of 2 competing languages enhances executive functions (E. Bialystok, 2001). The present research attempted to determine whether this bilingual advantage persists for adults and whether bilingualism attenuates the negative effects of aging on cognitive control in older adults. Three studies are reported that compared the performance of monolingual and bilingual middle-aged and older adults on the Simon task. Bilingualism was associated with smaller Simon effect costs for both age groups; bilingual participants also responded more rapidly to conditions that placed greater demands on working memory. In all cases the bilingual advantage was greater for older participants. It appears, therefore, that controlled processing is carried out more effectively by bilinguals and that bilingualism helps to offset age-related losses in certain executive processes.
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