Background: Older adults are not only the fastest growing segment of the population (~841 million worldwide) and continually increasing, but are of special concern due to the numerous age-associated deficits, especially those on cognition. Research indicates that knowing multiple languages may act as a protective factor against the deleterious effects of cognitive aging. Objective: The purpose of the current study is to examine whether multilingualism protects against the effects of cognitive aging on the domains of executive functioning, linguistic processing, attention, memory, and visuospatial functioning. Methods: Participants were 312 healthy older adults (68% female) from the Walnuts and Healthy Aging study at Loma Linda University (Age range = 64-75; M = 69.42, SD = 3.31). Of the 312 participants, 167 reported speaking one language and 145 reported speaking two or more languages. Preliminary analyses, including descriptives, testing of outliers and assumptions, and correlational analyses, as well as a series of ANCOVAs and MANCOVAs, will be used to test the study’s aims and specific hypotheses. Results: Education, age, and immigration status were all significant and therefore, controlled for in each analysis. Monolinguals and multilinguals significantly differed on the Stroop Word-Color executive functioning task with multilinguals performing better. There were no significant differences between language groups among all other cognitive domains. Discussion: Implications of both the significant and non-significant findings are discussed, as well as promising follow-up research that will be done to address the limitations and further explain the findings of the current study.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Arechiga, Adam L.

Second Advisor

Lee, Grace J.

Third Advisor

Sabaté, Joan

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Language; Cognition; Aged; Multilingualism

Subject - Local

Age-associated deficits; Cognitive aging; Multilingualism; Linguistic processing



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives