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Poster A1, Thursday, August 16, 10:15 am – 12:00 pm, Room 2000AB

Assessment of Bilingual Language Context on Cognitive Aging

Angelique M. Blackburn1, Nayeli Rojas1, Nayeli Rivas1, Alejandra Santos1, Alexandra Reyes1, Brenda Guerrero1;1Texas A&M International University

The bilingual advantage, that bilinguals demonstrate enhanced cognitive control to adapt to task demands compared to monolinguals, has been heavily attacked due to replication failure. One possibility for this failure is that only bilinguals who use their languages in contexts that require heavy language control will selectively strengthen aspects of cognitive control required to navigate their language use. We have used the Assessment of Code Switching Experience Survey to categorize Spanish-English bilinguals as dense code switchers, who frequently code switch between two languages within a conversation, or as dual-language bilinguals, who switch frequently between languages throughout the day but rarely within a conversation. We observed the N2 effect, an event-related potential (ERP) related to interference suppression ability, while these bilinguals performed the Simon and Flanker interference suppression tasks. To determine if the effect requires a lifetime of residing in a specific context, we are comparing the effect in an older bilingual population (ages 50+) to that previously obtained in young adults (ages 18-30). Preliminary results suggest that bilinguals residing in the dual-language context, in which greater language control is needed, exhibit enhanced neural responses related to interference suppression compared to those who reside in a dense code switching context. To test whether interference suppression is strengthened via a dopaminergic pathway, we will be determining if the effect is mediated by dopamine receptor expression linked to the A1 allele. These results clarify the long-term effects of residing in different bilingual contexts and elucidate a possible mechanism of the bilingual advantage in older adults.

Topic Area: Control, Selection, and Executive Processes