Poster B17, Thursday, August 16, 3:05 – 4:50 pm, Room 2000AB

Bilinguals and monolinguals hear the world differently

Jennifer Krizman1, Adam Tierney1,2, Trent Nicol1, Nina Kraus1;1Northwestern University, 2Now at Birkbeck, University of London

There is evidence of bilingual advantages for inhibitory control and auditory encoding, two processes that are fundamental to daily communication. Yet, it is not known if bilinguals utilize these cognitive and sensory advantages during real-world listening. To test our hypothesis that bilinguals engage these processes during real-world listening, bilinguals and monolinguals performed a selective attention task, a necessary skill for listening in complex environments. During the selective attention task, cortical and subcortical auditory evoked responses were collected to determine if auditory encoding during active listening differs between bilinguals and monolinguals. Participants additionally were tested on a measure of inhibitory control. We found that although monolinguals and bilinguals performed similarly on the selective attention task, the groups differed in the neural and cognitive processes that contributed to their performance on this task. Specifically, bilinguals demonstrated enhanced cortical and subcortical auditory encoding relative to monolinguals, and their performance on the inhibitory control test related with performance on the selective attention test, a relationship that was not seen for monolinguals. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that bilinguals utilize inhibitory control and enhanced auditory processing in real-world listening situations.

Topic Area: Perception: Auditory