Bilingualism Interacts With Domain in a Working Memory Task: Evidence From Aging

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Younger and older adults who were either monolingual or bilingual were tested with verbal and spatial working memory (WM) span tasks. Aging was associated with a greater decline in spatial WM than in verbal WM, but the age-related declines were equivalent in both language groups. The bilingual participants outperformed the monolinguals in spatial WM, but achieved lower levels of performance than monolinguals in verbal WM. This interaction between bilingualism and WM domain was also consistent across the adult life span. These results are discussed in terms of the interactions between a domain-general executive processing advantage for bilinguals and the domain-specific content of particular WM tasks.

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