Exploration of Verbal Fluency and Memory Performance in Adult Spanish-English Bilinguals and Monolinguals

Author: Sara Moody
Major: Psychology and Spanish
Approved: Spring 2021
Status: In progress

Recent studies have shown the impacts bilingualism has on cognition and other executive functions, such as an improvement in verbal fluency (Patra, Bose, and Marinis, 2019). Specifically, Patra et al. found that bilinguals had higher verbal fluency for controlled executive processing than monolinguals. Several studies have been done to examine the degree bilingualism affects linguistic repertoire, though the differences between monolingual and bilingual populations can differ depending on their proficiency in their first and second languages (Portocarrero, Burright, and Donovick, 2007). Portocarrero et al. also found that when conducting verbal fluency tasks, bilinguals performed worse in semantic fluency than native monolinguals. However, cultural background and age at the time of arrival in the U.S. may have impacted the results for the bilingual population (Portocarrero et al., 2007). My Distinction Project will examine how bilingualism affects verbal fluency and memory performance. I will use the faculty and staff of Roanoke College since they have a higher bilingual proficiency than the general population. To better understand the differences in verbal fluency, I will examine three distinct aspects of verbal fluency and memory performance. First, I will have participants verbally recall as many words as possible within a certain time constraint. Then, I will have participants study a list of words in English and Spanish, which they will then be asked to recall certain words from the lists. Lastly, I will present a series of images to participants and ask participants to pair the image with the presented word. Once the experimental phase has been completed, I intend to study abroad in San Sebastián, Spain, to gain a better understanding of the effects of cultural background on bilingualism. My ultimate goal is to demonstrate the benefits of studying a second language through the exploration of verbal fluency and cultural immersion.