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Early bilingual experience is associated with change detection ability in adults

D'Souza, D. ORCID: 0000-0002-3053-2484, Brady, D., Haensel, J. X. & D'Souza, H. (2021). Early bilingual experience is associated with change detection ability in adults. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 2068. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-81545-5


To adapt to their more varied and unpredictable (language) environments, infants from bilingual homes may gather more information (sample more of their environment) by shifting their visual attention more frequently. However, it is not known whether this early adaptation is age-specific or lasts into adulthood. If the latter, we would expect to observe it in adults who acquired their second language early, not late, in life. Here we show that early bilingual adults are faster at disengaging attention to shift attention, and at noticing changes between visual stimuli, than late bilingual adults. In one experiment, participants were presented with the same two visual stimuli; one changed (almost imperceptibly), the other remained the same. Initially, participants looked at both stimuli equally; eventually, they fixated more on the changing stimulus. This shift in looking occurred in the early but not late bilinguals. It suggests that cognitive processes adapt to early bilingual experiences.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Human behaviour, Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

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