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  Multilingualism, metacognition and cognitive control

   School of Psychology and Sport Science

  , ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Research Group

Centre for Mind and Behaviour

Proposed supervisory team

Prof Peter Bright

Dr Flavia Cardini

Dr Roberto Filippi (External - UCL Institute of Education)



Summary of the research project

The claim that multilanguage acquisition directly drives performance advantages in executive function (the so called bilingual cognitive advantage) is currently an issue of vigorous debate in the literature. Attention in this area has broadened in recent years from a relatively narrow focus on inhibitory control to incorporate other cognitive domains such as visuospatial memory, theory of mind and rule-based learning.

In this project we will consider the impact of multilanguage acquisition on metacognition, a cognitive function incorporating (i) lower-level awareness or knowledge of one’s own thoughts, and (ii) higher-level regulation or control of our thinking. This notion of metacognition both as a comparatively passive (knowledge/awareness) function and an active (regulatory/control) function is problematic because it renders the term rather inseparable from the well‐established concept of executive function: both are concerned with top‐down monitoring and control of cognition in the service of ongoing goal‐directed behaviour (Bright, Ouzia, & Filippi, 2019).

Despite this conceptual overlap, the only studies to date that have directly and empirically compared metacognitive performance in multilingual and monolingual participants indicate either a multilingual disadvantage (Folke, Ouzia, Bright, De Martino, & Filippi, 2016) or comparable metacognitive performance in both multilingual and monolingual participants (Filippi, Ceccolini, Periche-Tomas, & Bright, 2020).

Your research will explore evidence for overlap and divergence in the neural and psychological basis of metacognition and executive function and consider implications for the current debate on proposed neurocognitive advantages associated with multilanguage acquisition. The research will incorporate established tests of cognition and the development of new tests exploiting the outstanding facilities available to you within our Science Centre. In addition to behavioural assessment, you will have the opportunity to incorporate EEG, cortical stimulation and/or functional near-infrared spectroscopy in your work.

Where you'll study



This project is self-funded.

Details of studentships for which funding is available are selected by a competitive process and are advertised on our jobs website as they become available.

Next steps

If you wish to be considered for this project, you will need to apply for our Psychology PhD. In the section of the application form entitled 'Outline research proposal', please quote the above title and include a research proposal.

Psychology (31)

Register your interest for this project

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