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This thought-provoking monograph makes a multidisciplinary case for bilingualism as a possible enhancer of executive function, particularly cognitive control. Its central focus is the cognitive operations of the bilingual brain in processing two languages and whether they afford the brain a greater edge on neuroplasticity—in short, a cognitive advantage. Major issues and controversies in the debate are analyzed from cognitive neuroscience, psycholinguistic, and integrative perspectives, with attention paid to commonly and rarely studied domains at work in bilingual processing. The author also pinpoints future areas for improved research such as recognizing the diversity of bilingualism, not simply in languages spoken but also in social context, as seen among immigrants and refugees.

Included in the coverage:

The evolution of bilingualism.
What goes on in a bilingual mind? The core cognitive mechanisms.
Cognitive advantage of bilingualism and its criticisms.
Neuroscience of bilingualism.
Bilingualism, context, and control.
Attention, vision, and control in bilinguals.

With its cogent takes on ongoing questions and emerging issues, Bilingualism and Cognitive Control is of immediate interest to bilingual researchers and practitioners interested in understanding the behavioral aspects and neurobiology of bilingualism and the dynamic character of the bilingual/multilingual/second language learner’s mind, as well as the growing number of advanced undergraduate and graduate students interested in the psychology/psycholinguistics of bilingualism, bilingual cognitive psychology, cognitive science, and cognitive neuroscience.


This original volume examines the interface between attentional and linguistic processes in humans from the perspectives of psycholinguistics and cognitive science. It systematically explores how autonomy and automaticity are reflected during language processing in a variety of situations. A true, mechanistic explanation of how humans process language would require a complete understanding of the interface language has with important cognitive systems like attention, memory, as well as with vision. Interdisciplinary work in this area has so far not been able to generate a substantial theoretical position on this issue.

This volume therefore looks at different language processing domains, such as speaking, listening, reading, as well as discourse and text processing, to evaluate the role attention plays in such performances; and also at how often linguistic inputs affect attentional processing. In this sense, it proposes that the attention--language interface is bidirectional. It also considers applied issues like language disorders, bilingualism and illiteracy, where the attention--language interface seems especially relevant as a theoretical apparatus for research investigations. Therefore, this volume brings closer theoretical explanations from the language sciences and cognitive sciences. It argues that language processing is multi-modal in its very essence and many conceptual structures in language evolve out of a complex interplay among participating cognitive systems such as attention and memory, supported by vision and audition.

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