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Executive function control in bilingual speakers

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

It has been suggested that bilinguals have enhanced cognitive control abilities due to the need of monitoring and controlling one additional language (e.g. Bialystok et al., 2012). As a consequence, bilingualism appears to function as a cognitive reserve and delays dementia by about 5 years (e.g. Abutalebi et al., 2015). While the claim of a bilingual cognitive advantage has become under fierce debate because there is inconsistent evidence for it in terms of behavioural performance in executive function tasks (Paap, 2014), there is consistent and growing brain imaging and neurophysiological evidence that the brain of bilinguals functions differently from that of monolinguals when performing executive function tasks (e.g. Mohades et al., 2012). This project will investigate bilingual neural circuitry using EEG methodologies.

Applicants should have a very good bachelors degree, strong interest in the neurobiology of language and bilingualism, and have excellent oral and written communication skills. Experience with EEG methodologies is a plus, but not a necessary skill.

Note that the ESRC studentships are very competitive and a degree lower than a first class degree is unlikely to be awarded funding. Applicants with independent funding are encouraged to apply, even if they did obtain a lower degree classification than a first class degree.

Funding Notes

Funding can be sought through the ESRC Doctoral Training Centres at the University of Birmingham. Funding is not guaranteed and is highly competitive.


- Bialystok, E., Craik, F. I. M., & Luk, G. (2012). Bilingualism: consequences for mind and brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16(4), 240-250.
- Abutalebi, J., L. Guidi, et al. (2015). "Bilingualism provides a neural reserve for aging populations." Neuropsychologia 69: 201-210.
- Paap, K. R. (2014). "The role of componential analysis, categorical hypothesising, replicability and confirmation bias in testing for bilingual advantages in executive functioning." Journal of Cognitive Psychology 26(3): 242-255.
- Mohades, S. G., E. Struys, et al. (2012). "DTI reveals structural differences in white matter tracts between bilingual and monolingual children." Brain Research 1435: 72-80.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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