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Neuropsychology of Bilingualism is the field of research interested in investigating how the bilingual experience influences the brain and cognition. Throughout the years, many research studies have been showing that bilingualism has some cognitive benefits, mainly related to inhibitory control, an executive function that can lead to cognitive reserve. The present book discusses the main studies on this field and presents a research study conducted in Brazil.
Studies on bilingualism have raised interest since the 1920s, but it is still instigating and without agreement among researchers. At the beginning it way thought that bilingualism was related to intelligence, something discarded after years of study. In the 1980s, a new line of research began to investigate the impacts of bilingualism on executive functioning, and after some findings, authors suggested that inhibitory control seemed to be the domain that most benefited from bilingual experience. Subsequently, different studies around the world began to investigate the relationship between bilingualism and executive functions, from children to the elderly population, through early bilinguals to those with late learning. In research, the main tests used are Simon Task, Stroop and Flanker task, in which response time and reaction time are evaluated against incongruent (distracting) stimuli. But tests of working memory and language assessment also have great acceptance. In the present study, inhibitory control measures were evaluated in 22 children between 6 and 12 years of age, of both genders, living in Curitiba-Brazil, 11 monolingual (Portuguese) and 11 cradle bilinguals (English or French). Although the main goal of this book is to present the results of this specific study, it also discusses the main findings of many years of research on neuropsychology of bilingualism.