Bilingualism aids conflict resolution: evidence from the ANT task

Cognition. 2008 Jan;106(1):59-86. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2006.12.013. Epub 2007 Feb 2.


The need of bilinguals to continuously control two languages during speech production may exert general effects on their attentional networks. To explore this issue we compared the performance of bilinguals and monolinguals in the attentional network task (ANT) developed by Fan et al. [Fan, J., McCandliss, B.D. Sommer, T., Raz, A., Posner, M.I. (2002). Testing the efficiency and independence of attentional networks. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 14, 340-347]. This task is supposed to tap into three different attentional networks: alerting, orienting and executive control. The results revealed that bilingual participants were not only faster in performing the task, but also more efficient in the alerting and executive control networks. In particular, bilinguals were aided more by the presentation of an alerting cue, and were also better at resolving conflicting information. Furthermore, bilinguals experienced a reduced switching cost between the different type of trials compared to monolinguals. These results show that bilingualism exerts an influence in the attainment of efficient attentional mechanisms by young adults that are supposed to be at the peak of their attentional capabilities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Attention*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multilingualism*
  • Orientation
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Problem Solving
  • Reaction Time
  • Reversal Learning