Musical Training, Bilingualism, and Executive Function: A Closer Look at Task Switching and Dual-Task Performance

Authors

  • Linda Moradzadeh,

    1. Department of Psychology, York University
    2. LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research, York University
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  • Galit Blumenthal,

    1. Department of Psychology, York University
    2. LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research, York University
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  • Melody Wiseheart

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, York University
    2. LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research, York University
    • Correspondence should be sent to Melody Wiseheart, Department of Psychology, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M3J 1P3. E-mail: ncepeda@yorku.ca

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Abstract

This study investigated whether musical training and bilingualism are associated with enhancements in specific components of executive function, namely, task switching and dual-task performance. Participants (n = 153) belonging to one of four groups (monolingual musician, bilingual musician, bilingual non-musician, or monolingual non-musician) were matched on age and socioeconomic status and administered task switching and dual-task paradigms. Results demonstrated reduced global and local switch costs in musicians compared with non-musicians, suggesting that musical training can contribute to increased efficiency in the ability to shift flexibly between mental sets. On dual-task performance, musicians also outperformed non-musicians. There was neither a cognitive advantage for bilinguals relative to monolinguals, nor an interaction between music and language to suggest additive effects of both types of experience. These findings demonstrate that long-term musical training is associated with improvements in task switching and dual-task performance.

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