Being bilingual is not only about speaking two languages, it is a quality that may be a protective factor against cognitive decline. Previous research has demonstrated that bilinguals frequently outperform monolinguals in tasks that are associated with age-related cognitive decline such as executive function, working memory, and inhibitory control. Green (1998) proposed the Inhibitory Control Model (ICM) that states that when speaking a given language, bilinguals need to inhibit the other language they know but are not currently using. This model holds that constant inhibition of the non-target language reinforces bilinguals’ inhibitory control abilities, which confer benefits on more general executive control tasks. The aim of the current study is to examine whether an age-related bilingual advantage would also be observed in a language-based task closely related to inhibitory control: the false hearing task (Rogers, Jacoby, & Sommers, 2012). In the false hearing task, participants hear a clearly presented cue word followed by a target word presented in noise. The cue word can either be related to the target (e.g., “ROW-BOAT”), related to a word that sounds like the target (“ROW-GOAT”), or totally unrelated to the target (e.g., “ROW-MASK”). In order to hear the word that was actually presented, listeners need to inhibit the effect of context provided by the cue word. An online version of the false hearing task was administered to young and older adults who self-reported as being either monolingual or bilingual via gorilla.sc. Results will be evaluated in terms of bilinguals’ presumed capacity of inhibiting irrelevant stimuli as predicted by the ICM and implications towards aging will be discussed.
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