Bilingualism and processing of elementary cognitive tasks by chicano adolescents

Jose Nanez, Raymond V. Padilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The results of two experiments are presented. In Experiment 1, Chicano adolescents, classified as balanced, proficient bilinguals (fluent English-Spanish speakers) or non-balanced bilinguals (English-dominant speakers possessing little Spanish mastery) were administered Hick’s (1952) sensory-perceptual memory task. While both language groups exhibited classic increases in reaction time (RT) with increased cognitive complexity of the task, there was no difference in RT attributable to differences in bilingual proficiency. This finding indicates that if there is an interaction between bilingual proficiency and rate-of-cognitive -information processing, it does not occur at the level of sensory-perceptual memory. In Experiment 2, the participants were administered Sternberg’s (1969) digit-span, short-term memory task. Both groups showed increased RT with increased digit span. However, RT of the non-balanced group was significantly faster overall than the RT of the balanced, proficient group, indicating that an interaction between bilingual proficiency and rate-of-cognitive-infoimation processing initially occurs at the level of short-term memory. However, there was no difference in the number of correct and incorrect responses between the two language groups. Some possible explanations for the difference in rate-of-information processing between the two language groups on the short-term memory task are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-260
Number of pages12
JournalBilingual Research Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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