Bilingual Studies Found Flawed
VEDANTAM: ...In 2009, researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Britain - they published a study showing that bilingual speakers could resist distraction better than monolingual speakers. So that totally fits with the theory. But I recently spoke with Angela de Bruin. She's recently revisited the subject based on her personal knowledge of what actually happened. It turns out the researchers in that 2009 paper actually conducted four experiments. Three out of the four did not show that bilinguals were less distractible than monolingual speakers. I let de Bruin explain what happened next.
ANGELA DE BRUIN: One of those tasks showed an effect of bilingualism. And that's the task that was published. Now, the three other tasks did not show any effect of bilingualism at all. And those tasks never made it into a publication. They were just put in a file drawer. So we had four studies, but only one was published. And that's the successful one, showing an effect bilingualism.
Four studies, only the one that showed positive effects was published, and even that study wasn't able to be replicated. Everyone has biases, including researchers. And some researchers really want overall "brain benefits" from bilingualism to exist. However, we have to remember that it's just too easy to make huge theoretical leaps from what the actual data suggests. Clearly, there are benefits to being bilingual, but we can't say that being bilingual builds better executive functions.
Read the full story here at NPR: Bilingual Studies Reveal Flaw In How Info Reaches Mainstream : NPR.