Home » Abstract » The Effect of Translating and Interpreting Experience on Young Adults’ Cognitive Control Development —A Longitudinal Study

The Effect of Translating and Interpreting Experience on Young Adults’ Cognitive Control Development —A Longitudinal Study

Yuhua Liu and Yanping Dong (Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China)

ypdong@gdufs.edu.cn, ypdong65@hotmail.com

bilingual advantage, cognitive control, translation, interpreting, switching

Previous studies indicate that the bilingual experience of interpreting brings about the switching advantage of cognitive control, but this bilingual experience of interpreting generally includes trainings of both written translation and oral interpretation. To tear apart the two in the research of cognitive control may help answer the question of what exactly brings about bilingual advantages.

The present longitudinal study investigated how the two specific bilingual experiences of translating and interpreting would influence cognitive control development in young adults. After matching participants’ relevant features in the pre-test, we compared the post-test performance on the number Stroop task、color-shape switch task、WCST、2-back updating task and two working memory span tasks across three groups of Chinese-English young adult bilinguals, who differed mainly in their half-year long bilingual experience: one for English (L2) learning, one for translating and one for interpreting. The results show that the interpreting experience enhanced switching ability significantly in both color-shape and WCST tasks. The translating experience tended to improve performance in a 2-back updating task and one switching task (color-shape), but the effect was insignificant and not as large as that imposed by the interpreting experience. The findings indicate that more practice of verbal switches may predict better non-verbal switching abilities, and that the underlying cause of bilingual advantages probably lies in the processing immediacy of an additional language which is definitely more demanding than that of a single language.



  • Dong, Y., & Li, P. The cognitive science of bilingualism. Language and Linguistic Compass, 9(1):1-13, 2015
  • Dong, Y., & Xie, Z. Contributions of second language proficiency and interpreting experience to cognitive control differences among young adult bilinguals. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 26(5):506-519, 2014.
  • Valian, V. Bilingualism and cognition. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 18(1):3-24, 2015.
  • Woumans, E., Ceuleers, E., Van der Linden, L., Szmalec, A., & Duyck, W. Language control in bilinguals and interpreters. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 2015.
  • Yudes, C., Macizo, P., & Bajo, T. The influence of expertise in simultaneous interpreting on non-verbal executive processes. Frontiers in Psychology, 2011.