Processing differences between monolingual and bilingual young adults on an emotion n-back task.


York University, Canada. Electronic address: [Email]


Bilingualism is associated with enhancement of executive control (EC) across the lifespan. Working memory and non-verbal emotion regulation both draw upon EC mechanisms so may also be affected by bilingualism, but these relationships are not fully understood. These relationships were explored using an n-back task with distracting emotional stimuli administered to young adults while continuous EEG was recorded. Monolinguals were faster but less accurate on the 2-back than bilinguals, and monolingual accuracy was more impeded by the presence of emotional stimuli than was that of bilinguals. The P300 event-related potential, a neural signature of working memory processing in the n-back, had smaller amplitudes in both groups on the 2-back than the 1-back, but attenuation in response to distracting emotional stimuli was greater for bilinguals than monolinguals. P300 latencies were also differentially affected by emotional stimuli in each group: Bilingual latencies were constant across emotions but monolingual latencies increased from neutral to angry conditions. In general, bilingual performance was less impacted by the emotional distraction than was that of the monolinguals. Additionally, bilinguals adjusted to the changing demands of the 1-back and 2-back conditions by recruiting neural networks to support different behavioral outcomes than monolinguals.


Bilingualism,Emotion regulation,Event-related potentials,N-back task,Working memory,