Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1384-6647
  • E-ISSN: 1569-982X
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In complex tasks such as interpreting, the importance of a well-functioning working memory can hardly be overestimated. However, empirical studies have failed to produce consistent results with regard to an interpreter advantage in working memory. Recent studies tend to focus on the executive component of working memory. To our knowledge, no such study has compared the possible cognitive advantage of aspiring interpreters relative to other multilinguals before training takes place, in spite of the fact that excellent cognitive abilities are considered important in many interpreter selection procedures. In this study, we compared the working memory capacity and executive functions of a group of 20 student interpreters with two other groups of advanced language users who were all at the start of their Master’s training. Data were collected on three executive control functions: inhibition, shifting and updating. A forward and a backward digit span task for measuring the participants’ working memory capacity was also included in this study. Results revealed only negligible differences between the three groups at onset of training. The presumed cognitive advantage of aspiring interpreters with regard to executive control was not found.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): executive control; inhibiting; switching; updating; working memory
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