Attentional control in early and later bilingual children

Leah L. Kapa, John Colombo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


We examined differences in attentional control among school-age children who were monolingual English speakers, early Spanish-English bilinguals (who began speaking both languages by age 3), and later Spanish-English bilingual children (who began speaking English after age 3). Children's attentional control was tested using the Attention Network Test (ANT). All language groups performed equally on ANT networks; however, when controlling for age and verbal ability, groups differed significantly on reaction time. Early bilingual children responded faster on the ANT compared to both monolingual and later bilingual children, suggesting an attentional monitoring advantage for early bilinguals. These results add to evidence of advantaged cognitive functioning among bilinguals and are consistent with the possibility that children who begin speaking a second language earlier in childhood have greater advantages, due either to effects of acquiring a second language earlier or to longer duration of bilingual experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-246
Number of pages14
JournalCognitive Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Attention Network Test
  • Attentional monitoring
  • Bilingualism
  • Cognitive control
  • Language acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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