Does speaking two dialects in daily life affect executive functions? An event-related potential study

Yan Jing Wu, Haoyun Zhang, Taomei Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Whether using two languages enhances executive functions is a matter of debate. Here, we take a novel perspective to examine the bilingual advantage hypothesis by comparing bidialect with mono-dialect speakers' performance on a non-linguistic task that requires executive control. Two groups of native Chinese speakers, one speaking only the Standard Chinese Mandarin and the other also speaking the Southern-Min dialect, which differs from the Standard Chinese Mandarin primarily in phonology, performed a classic Flanker task. Behavioural results showed no difference between the two groups, but event-related potentials recorded simultaneously revealed a number of differences, including an earlier P2 effect in the bi-dialect as compared to the mono-dialect group, suggesting that the two groups engage different underlying neural processes. Despite differences in the early ERP component, no between-group differences in the magnitude of the Flanker effects, which is an index of conflict resolution, were observed in the N2 component. Therefore, these findings suggest that speaking two dialects of one language does not enhance executive functions. Implications of the current findings for the bilingual advantage hypothesis are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0150492
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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