The role of bilingualism on executive functioning and cognitive aging in a Latino and non-Latino White HIV+ population

Kaori Kubo Germano, Fordham University


This study investigated the cross-sectional effects of bilingualism and aging on HIV-related executive functioning in a sample of 70 bilingual HIV+ Latino adults. The current study added a novel dimension to HIV-related neuropsychological research by examining bilingualism as a possible neuroprotective factor against HIV-related executive dysfunction. The primary aim of this study was to determine if levels of bilingualism were associated with executive functioning. A secondary aim was to determine if bilingualism would mediate the relationship between ethnicity and executive functioning. A tertiary aim was to determine the relationship between age and executive functioning in a cohort of HIV+ Latino adults, and whether bilingualism moderated this relationship. Bivariate analyses revealed levels of bilingualism were significantly related to overall executive functioning, as well as specific executive functioning tasks. Higher levels of English-dominant bilingualism were associated with greater abstraction and executive functioning, as well as greater attentional control and set-shifting. Results of analyses comparing English-dominant, Balanced, and Spanish-dominant bilingual participants on performance on executive functioning tasks suggest that Spanish-dominant bilinguals performed significantly worse on executive functioning tasks when compared with Balanced and English-dominant bilinguals. Bivariate analyses revealed age was associated with executive functioning, but this relationship was not moderated by bilingualism. The relationship between ethnicity and executive functioning could not be examined in the current study, due to the unavailability of data for HIV+ non-Latino White participants. The findings of the suggest that level of bilingualism is associated with executive functioning among HIV+ Latino participants. However, the findings also suggest that acculturation may play an important role in influencing performance on executive functioning tasks. The results from this study make a significant contribution to a growing body of literature on bilingualism and executive functioning, and provide a solid basis on which to expand the research to include more advanced techniques.

Subject Area

Neurosciences|Aging|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Germano, Kaori Kubo, "The role of bilingualism on executive functioning and cognitive aging in a Latino and non-Latino White HIV+ population" (2012). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3544397.