Myelomeningocele is the most common and most severe form of spina bifida, affecting the brain and spinal cord of millions of children. Children of Hispanic background have the highest prevalence rate of this condition. Despite this fact, research that examines the cognitive profiles of Hispanic children with myelomeningocele is limited. A review on bilingualism and neurocognitive performance suggests that a cognitive advantage is present among those who are able to learn and utilize two languages. Although some have investigated the neuropsychological performance of children with myelomeningocele, research has yet to examine whether a bilingual cognitive advantage is present among bilingual children with this condition. Furthermore, it is unknown whether bilingualism gives a cognitive advantage to those who undergo additional brain insults such as multiple shunt revisions, which are commonly seen in those with myelomeningocele and hydrocephalus (MM-HC). Therefore, this study aimed to examine the neurocognitive profiles of bilingual Hispanic children with myelomeningocele and evaluate whether they benefit from the bilingual cognitive advantage. Twenty seven monolingual children and 22 bilingual children with MM-HC were administered a neuropsychological battery to assess various cognitive domains. In addition, the influence of cultural variables (such as level of language fluency, acculturation, parental income and education) was also considered. Analyses of Covariance indicated that after controlling for cultural variables, the scores of bilingual and monolingual children with MM-HC in the domains of General Intellectual Abilities, Verbal abilities, Motor Abilities, Processing Speed and Executive Functions were not significantly different. However, significant differences were found in the domains of Visual Memory/Abilities and Verbal/Working Memory, indicating that monolingual children with MM-HC significantly outperformed their bilingual counterparts. Subsequent analyses among those who had undergone additional shunt related surgeries revealed no significant differences between bilingual and monolingual children with MM-HC who had a history of shunt revisions. Results from this study suggest that the cognitive advantage seen among bilinguals with intact brains (i.e., no previous brain insults/traumas) is not present among bilingual children with MM-HC. Several explanations of these findings are discussed.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Science and Technology

First Advisor

Ropacki, Susan A.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded

January 2011

Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Hispanic Americans; Hydrocephalus

Subject - Local

Myelomeningocele; Spina bifida; Neuropsychological functioning; Bilingual children; Bilingual cognitive advantage; neurocognitive performance



Page Count

126 p.

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 & Dissertations

Collection Website



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