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See detailExecutive functions and Specific Language Impairment (SLI) A cross-cultural study with bi- and monolingual children from low income families in Luxembourg, Portugal, and Brazil
Engel de Abreu, Pascale UL; Puglisi, Marina; Cruz-Santos, Anabela et al

Scientific Conference (2014, July 16)

Research questions. Our aim was to (a) seek cross-cultural evidence for executive functioning deficits in children with specific language impairment (SLI); (b) explore whether a similar pattern of ... [more ▼]

Research questions. Our aim was to (a) seek cross-cultural evidence for executive functioning deficits in children with specific language impairment (SLI); (b) explore whether a similar pattern of deficits emerges in monolingual and bilingual children with SLI from low income families. Methods. We present data on bilingual and monolingual children from Luxembourg, Portugal, and Brazil who all speak Portuguese as their first language and were tested on the same battery of language and executive function measures. The data from 124 eight-year-olds from five different groups was analyzed: (1) 15 Portuguese-Luxembourgish bilingual children from Luxembourg with SLI (Bi-SLI); (2) 33 typically developing Portuguese-Luxembourgish bilingual children from Luxembourg (Bi-TD); (3) 33 typically developing monolinguals from Portugal (Mo-TD/Pt); (4) 18 monolinguals from Brazil with SLI (Mo-SLI); (5) 25 typically developing monolinguals from Brazil (Mo-TD/Br). Groups were matched on chronological age, socioeconomic status, and nonverbal intelligence. Children completed a range of measures tapping vocabulary, grammar, verbal and visuospatial working memory, and cognitive control. Results. Despite significant differences in their language and verbal working memory performance (SLI<TD), groups exhibited comparable performance on visuospatial working memory tasks. On cognitive control the following pattern emerged: Mo-TD/Pt < Bi-TD; Bi-SLI = Mo-TD/Pt; Mo-SLI < Mo-TD/Br. Conclusion. The study provides no evidence of domain-general deficits in working memory in SLI. Visuospatial working memory difficulties might not be specific to SLI but represent one of many risk factors that can compromise language learning. Our data is consistent with the position that a bilingual experience stimulates the development of cognitive control that is involved in dealing with conflicting information. Notably, our results indicate that mechanisms of cognitive control might be deficient in monolingual but not in bilingual children with SLI raising the possibility that bilingualism might represent a protective factor against some of the cognitive limitations in SLI. [less ▲]

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See detailBilingualism Enriches the Poor: Enhanced Cognitive Control in Low-Income Minority Children
Engel de Abreu, Pascale UL; Cruz-Santos, Anabela; Tourinho, Carlos et al

Scientific Conference (2014, July 16)

Research question: Living in poverty is often accompanied by conditions that can negatively influence cognitive development (Noble, Norman, & Farah, 2005). Is it possible that being bilingual might ... [more ▼]

Research question: Living in poverty is often accompanied by conditions that can negatively influence cognitive development (Noble, Norman, & Farah, 2005). Is it possible that being bilingual might counteract these effects? This study explores whether the cognitive advantage associated with bilingualism in executive functioning (Bialystok, Craik, Green, & Gollan, 2009) extends to young immigrant children challenged by poverty and, if it does, which specific processes are most affected. Methods: 80 second graders from low-income families participated in the study. Half of the children were first or second generation immigrants to Luxembourg, originally from Northern Portugal, who spoke both Luxembourgish and Portuguese on a daily basis. The other matched half of children lived in Northern Portugal and spoke only Portuguese. Children completed measures of vocabulary and visuo-spatial tests of working memory, abstract reasoning, selective attention, and interference suppression. Results: Two broad cognitive factors of executive functioning—representation (abstract reasoning and working memory) and control (selective attention and interference [less ▲]

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See detailSpecific language impairment in language minority children from low-income families
Engel de Abreu, Pascale UL; Cruz-Santos, Anabela; Puglisi, Marina

in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology (2014, May), 56(S3), 7-23

Background: This study seeks to determine whether executive functioning represents an area of difficulty for bilingual children with SLI and if so, which specific executive processes are affected. Methods ... [more ▼]

Background: This study seeks to determine whether executive functioning represents an area of difficulty for bilingual children with SLI and if so, which specific executive processes are affected. Methods: The data from 81 eight-year-olds from the following groups was analyzed: (1) 15 Portuguese-Luxembourgish bilinguals from Luxembourg with an SLI diagnosis; (2) 33 typically developing Portuguese-Luxembourgish bilinguals from Luxembourg; (3) 33 typically developing Portuguese-speaking monolinguals from Portugal. Groups were matched on first language, ethnicity, chronological age, socioeconomic status, and nonverbal intelligence. Children completed tests tapping: expressive and receptive vocabulary, syntactic comprehension, verbal and visuospatial working memory, selective attention and interference suppression. Results: The bilingual SLI group performed equally well to their typically developing peers on measures of visuospatial working memory but had lower scores than both control groups on tasks of verbal working memory. On measures of selective attention and interference suppression, typically developing children who were bilingual outperformed their monolingual counterparts. For selective attention, performance of the bilingual SLI group did not differ significantly from the controls. For interference suppression the bilingual SLI group performed significantly less well than typically developing bilinguals but not monolinguals. Discussion: The study indicates that although bilingual children with SLI do not demonstrate the same advantages in selective attention and interference suppression as typically developing bilinguals, they do not lag behind typically developing monolinguals in these domains of executive functioning. This finding raises the possibility that bilingualism might represent a protective factor against some of the cognitive limitations that are associated with SLI in monolinguals. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 134 (5 UL)