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This study explores the extent to which a bilingual advantage can be observed for three tasks in an established population of fully fluent bilinguals from childhood through adulthood. Welsh-English simultaneous and early sequential bilinguals, as well as English monolinguals, aged 3 years through older adults, were tested on three sets of cognitive and executive function tasks. Bilinguals were Welsh-dominant, balanced, or English-dominant, with only Welsh, Welsh and English, or only English at home. Card sorting, Simon, and a metalinguistic judgment task (650, 557, and 354 participants, respectively) reveal little support for a bilingual advantage, either in relation to control or globally. Primarily there is no difference in performance across groups, but there is occasionally better performance by monolinguals or persons dominant in the language being tested, and in one case-in one condition and in one age group-lower performance by the monolinguals. The lack of evidence for a bilingual advantage in these simultaneous and early sequential bilinguals suggests the need for much closer scrutiny of what type of bilingual might demonstrate the reported effects, under what conditions, and why.


© 2014 Gathercole, Thomas, Kennedy, Prys, Young, Viñas Guasch, Roberts, Hughes and Jones. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00011