Chapter 1. Bilingualism, executive control, and eye movement measures of reading

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This chapter selectively reviews the literature on bilingual language processing, with a special focus on the link to executive control, eye movements during reading, and differences between two different groups that are often lumped together: bilinguals (i.e., individuals who know two languages) and multilinguals (i.e., individuals who know more than two languages). To this end, we first discuss ideas about the cognitive demands associated with knowing more than a single language. We then review how eye movement reading research has clarified two important consequences of knowledge and use of more than one language: (1) cross-language activation and its relation to executive function and (2) weakened local (i.e., word-level) and global (i.e., text-level) aspects of reading performance. Finally, we review what is currently known about the bilingual vs. multilingual distinction, and present a re-analysis of previously published data (Whitford & Titone, 2016) exploring the effects of bilingual vs. multilingual status on natural reading in both younger and older adults. Although preliminary, these findings, along with the growing literature reviewed here from other domains, illustrate the importance of taking the bilingualism/multilingualism distinction into account when trying to understand the cognitive implications of knowing more than one language.


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