Examining Bilingual Language Control Using the Stroop Task

* These authors contributed equally
This article has been accepted and is currently in production

Abstract

The Stroop task in its many variations has been used in fields such as psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience to examine questions regarding the automaticity of reading, language processing, and cognitive control, among others. When looking at bilingual individuals, this task can be used to obtain measures of language interference and control in both a bilingual’s first language (L1) and second language (L2), as well as for testing the bilingual advantage hypothesis. The Stroop task presents participants with color terms written in congruent colors (e.g., the word RED written in red font), incongruent colors (e.g., the word RED written in green font), in addition to noncolor terms for control (e.g., the word TREE presented in any color), and uses the reaction times from the different conditions to assess the degree of interference and facilitation. In the covert version of the Stroop bilingual task (i.e., participants respond by pressing a button rather than naming aloud), stimuli in the L1 and the L2 are typically presented in separate blocks. While this allows for a simple, yet effective assessment of processing and cognitive control in each language, it fails to capture any potential differences in processing and control within bilingual young adult groups. The present task combines single-language blocks with a novel mixed-language block to increase the level of difficulty of the task, thus making it suitable for testing cognitive control in young adults. Representative results showing differences between performance in the single-language vs. mixed-language blocks are presented, and the benefits of a mixed-language block are discussed.