Recently, doubts were raised about the existence of the bilingual advantage in cognitive control. The aim of the present review was to investigate the bilingual advantage and its modulating factors. We searched the Medline, ScienceDirect, Scopus, and ERIC databases for all original data and reviewed studies on bilingualism and cognitive control, with a cut-off date of 31 October 2018, thereby following the guidelines of the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analysis (PRISMA) protocol. The results of the 46 original studies show that indeed, the majority, 54.3%, reported beneficial effects of bilingualism on cognitive control tasks; however, 28.3% found mixed results and 17.4% found evidence against its existence. Methodological differences seem to explain these mixed results: Particularly, the varying selection of the bilingual participants, the use of nonstandardized tests, and the fact that individual differences were often neglected and that longitudinal designs were rare. Therefore, a serious risk for bias exists in both directions (i.e., in favor of and against the bilingual advantage). To conclude, we found some evidence for a bilingual advantage in cognitive control; however, if significant progress is to be made, better study designs, bigger data, and more longitudinal studies are needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number27
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2019

    Research areas

  • Bilingual advantage, Bilingualism, Cognitive control, Individual differences, Longitudinal studies, Methodology

ID: 45765228