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Maria Guinazu  

Sleep, Bilingualism, Children, Working Memory

Sleep and Bilingualism: The effect of sleep on bilingual children when remembering non- words. 

My research project looked at whether knowing more than one language helps children to recall novel words and how that recall ability is influenced by sleep. The first aim of the current study was to analyse whether the response-level (Stimulus–Response) inhibition mechanisms differ between bilinguals and monolinguals. The second aim was to investigate whether there is a correlation between children’s linguistic background and their sleep hygiene, which could consequently have an impact on their ability to remember new words. 

Fifteen bilingual children (English + additional language) and fifteen monolingual children between the ages 7-12 were tested before the night where they had to do two tasks: non-verbal task (Simon Task) and a verbal task (Animal Declarative Task). The following morning they were retested on the Animal Declarative Task. 

The results from the Simon Task showed that bilinguals showed a higher level of accuracy and they were quicker than monolinguals. This might be due to a possible cognitive advantage in the executive function. When looking at the verbal task, monolinguals outperformed bilinguals during the pre-performance as they managed to remember more words. However, bilinguals benefited from a night’s sleep which brought bilingual task performance to the level of monolinguals. This indicated that bilinguals needed more time to acquire labels to its referents which might be due to the fact that they need to learn more than one name to the same concept. Nonetheless, this does not mean that they are not able to remember those linguistic units as they were able to reproduce them during the post-performance. 

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