Assessing How Bilingual Experience Impacts Performance in Stimulus-Stimulus and Stimulus-Response Conflict Tasks

Christian Ruiz-Ortiz, University of Texas at El Paso


Numerous studies have revealed that bilingual individuals outperform monolinguals in tasks requiring executive control. However, the exact impact of bilingualism on executive functions remains unclear due to inconsistent findings in the literature. These discrepancies may stem from factors such as participant demographics, variations in definitions and operationalizations of bilingualism, and task selection. To address these issues, we investigated the link between degree of balance and contextual use with the ability to address conflict across sensory modalities (auditory and visual) at different stages of processing. Rather than focusing on mean performance, this study investigated performance stability (coefficient of variation) over time to uncover any adaptations that may occur in non-verbal selective attention and conflict resolution tasks. 120 English and Spanish bilinguals were recruited and asked to complete a Simon-type (with stimulus-response conflict) and a Stroop-type (with stimulus-stimulus conflict) task. Our results indicate that greater balance across languages is associated with more variability in task performance, especially in the auditory Stroop task, which shows strong evidence of language modulation, possibly as a result of increased task difficulty and a strain on the availability of cognitive resources due to high language control requirements. We also found that participants with more exposure to a high language control environment had higher interference scores. Our results reveal that the context in which languages are used does impact cognitive abilities, although not in the way prior studies have reported. As our findings are not entirely in accord with previous research, we offer possible explanations for these discrepancies.

Subject Area

Experimental psychology|Bilingual education

Recommended Citation

Ruiz-Ortiz, Christian, "Assessing How Bilingual Experience Impacts Performance in Stimulus-Stimulus and Stimulus-Response Conflict Tasks" (2023). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI30494009.