ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (11): 1392-1403.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.01392

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Effects of “each speaks their own dialect” phenomenon on the executive function of Jingpo students

 WANG Ting1; WANG Dan1; ZHANG Jijia1; CUI Jianai2   

  1.  (1 Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China; The State Ethnic Affairs Commission Key Research Center for Language, Cultural, and Psychology; Key Research Center for National Psychology and Education, the National Education Development Center of the Ministry of Education, Beijing 100872, China) (2 Department of Social Science, Dehong Teachers’ College, Yunnan Luxi 678400, China)
  • Received:2016-11-09 Published:2017-11-26 Online:2017-09-25
  • Contact: ZHANG Jijia, E-mail: E-mail: E-mail:
  • Supported by:

Abstract:  Many Jingpo families are composed of people from different branches of the Jingpo nationality, each of which has its own dialect. Family members use these different dialects when they communicate with each other. Will this linguistic phenomenon influence their executive function? Previous research on the relation of language and executive function views inhibitory control as one of the common components but seldom takes into consideration the diversity of executive functions. Moreover, previous studies have confirmed that bilingualism has a positive effect on many cognitive functions. Studies of cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience have strongly suggested that executive function is not a unitary construct. However, few researchers have examined the ethnic Chinese minorities through empirical study The present study investigated three latitude executive functions (inhibition of responses, memory updating, and attention switching) of 56 Jingpo college students in Yunnan Province. The participants of this study were divided into groups that do and do not speak their own dialect. Both groups were investigated in three experiment tasks to explore the effects of language experience and culture on different components of executive function. In Test 1, the inhibition subcomponent was measured by the Stroop task and stop–signal task. In Test 2, the updating subcomponent was tested by the active memory task and color dots updating task. In Test 3, the shifting subcomponent was tested by local–global task and more–odd task. Correlation analysis results indicated that tasks measuring the same executive function presented a significant positive correlation, and the correlation between tasks measuring different functions was not significant, providing strong evidence for the diversity of executive function. Based on this result we tested the cognitive advantages in three executive functions between students who do and do not speak their own dialect. The result indicated a bilingual cognitive advantage in Jingpo college students. Students who speak their own dialect outperformed those who do not in inhibitory control and shifting, but there were no significant difference of two groups in memory updating. In summary, the present study suggests that executive function includes different components, and that language experience has a specific effect on executive function. These can be new evidence for the hypothesis of linguistic reality: language influence cognition.

Key words:  Jingpo nationality, each speaks their own dialect, executive function

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