International Journal of Bilingualism
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Recent research has produced mixed results about the existence of a bilingual executive control advantage in young adults. The current study manipulated both task demands and task difficulty to investigate the conditions under which a bilingual advantage may be observed during a visual attention task. Bilingual and monolingual young adults performed visual search tasks in which they determined whether a target shape was present amid distractor shapes. In the feature searches, the target (e.g., green triangle) differed on a single dimension (e.g., color) from the distractors (e.g., yellow triangles); in the conjunction searches, two different types of distractors (e.g., pink circles and turquoise squares) each differed from the target (e.g., turquoise circle) on a single but different dimension (e.g., color or shape). All participants performed the feature searches equivalently but bilinguals were significantly faster than monolinguals in identifying the target in the more difficult conjunction search. The conjunction search required focused attention to locate the target than the feature search, providing evidence for better control of visual attention in bilinguals.