The influence of language on exact additions in bilingual adults

Amandine Van Rinsveld, Martin Brunner, Karin Landerl, Christine Schiltz, Sonja Ugen

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review

Abstract

To which degree is language involved
in arithmetic? We investigated this question in a German-French bilingual
setting. In Luxembourg, bilingualism is acquired through education: mathematics
are taught in German in primary and in French in secondary school.
Interestingly, the decades and units within two-digit number names follow
the unit-decade order in German but the decade-unit order in French. Forty-
eight bilingual adults performed simple and complex additions. Participants
had to orally respond either in German or in French. Additions were
presented in different conditions: (1) visual Arabic presentation, (2) auditory
presentation (in German or in French), and (3) as a dual task in which
visually presented additions were preceded by visually presented semantic
judgments to indirectly activate a German or French language context.
The results showed that participants performed complex calculations better
in the dominant language (German), while there were no differences for
simple calculations. Thus, language profi ciency seems to be crucial for the
computation of more complex calculations, whereas arithmetic facts can be
retrieved equally well in both languages. Further, adding language at the
input level (auditory presentation) enhanced performances for simple calculations,
especially in the non-dominant language (French), while it was
exactly the opposite effect for complex calculations. Additionally, visual
additions were better performed within a surrounding linguistic context (3)
than alone (1) in their non-dominant language, suggesting the crucial role
of the linguistic context of an addition task in bilinguals. Taken together,
these results support the view of a strong language impact on calculations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberC76
Pages (from-to)107-107
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of cognitive neuroscience
Volume25
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes
Event20th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive-Neuroscience-Society - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 13 Apr 201316 Apr 2013

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