Cognitive flexibility in drawings of bilingual children

Esther Adi-Japha, Jennie Berberich-Artzi, Afaf Libnawi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    98 Scopus citations


    A. Karmiloff-Smith's (1990) task of drawing a nonexistent object is considered to be a measure of cognitive flexibility. The notion of earlier emergence of cognitive flexibility in bilingual children motivated the current researchers to request 4- and 5-year-old English-Hebrew and Arabic-Hebrew bilingual children and their monolingual peers to draw a flower and a house that do not exist (N = 80). Bilinguals exhibited a significantly higher rate of interrepresentational flexibility in their drawings (e.g., "a giraffe flower,"" a chair-house," found in 28 of 54 drawings), whereas the level of complex intrarepresentational change was similar across groups. Interrepresentational drawings were previously reported only for children older than 7 years. The specific mechanisms by which bilinguals' language experience may lead to interrepresentational flexibility are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1356-1366
    Number of pages11
    JournalChild Development
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Sep 2010


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