Kandice will present her research on cognitive development in low-income bilingual children.
The current research examines the cognitive benefits of bilingualism and the possible mechanisms related to advanced cognition by which such benefits operate. Although older balanced bilinguals (proficient in two languages) display several cognitive advantages (Bialystok, 2001; Hakuta, 1987) when compared to monolinguals, less is known about when such benefits begin during early development. In an effort to examine potential advantages of early bilinguals, the present research utilizes a series of visual-spatial memory and executive functioning tasks. In addition, this work investigates the influence of several factors on cognitive performance including socioeconomic status (SES), age, and language group. A robust finding from these experiments suggests having equal proficiency levels in two languages leads to success on tasks of visual-spatial memory, executive functioning inhibitory control, and executive functioning attentional control. This research addresses these factors through the utilization of a low-SES population, a single early age group (four-year-olds), and two monolingual groups for comparison (English and Spanish).