Cognitive Psychology


Merve GrMerve Gul Degirmenci - Cognitive Psychologist M.Sc.
Network Aging Research

Bergheimer Straße 20
69115 Heidelberg

Phone: +49 (0)6221 54 8132

Fellows: Dr. rer. nat. Birgit Teichmann, Prof. Dr. Patric Meyer


The Role of Bilingualism on Executive Functions in Healthy Older Adults

Executive functions (EF) refer to complex cognitive processes which are closely related to the maturation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). It is an umbrella term and incorporates updating, shifting, and inhibition (Miyake et al., 2000). Development of EFs have a bell-shaped curve in the acquisition and later loss of these skills, highlighting the existence of nonlinear trajectories (Anderson et al., 2008). Due to the delayed maturation of the PFC, EFs are among the last functions that reach maturity and one of the first functions of the brain to degenerate, both in the pathological aging and dementia. In the field of cognitive science, many researchers are motivated to study the effect of bilingualism on these cognitive abilities to explore whether there is a bilingual advantage. Bilingualism can be considered as a complex mental activity and may result in more efficient executive functions which lead to an improvement in executive functions of bilinguals relative to monolinguals (Adesope et al., 2010, Bialystok et al., 2010). There are reports that bilingual older adults have larger gray matter volumes in the left temporal cortex than monolinguals (Abutalebi et al., 2014), and stronger white matter connectivity between the left and right frontal cortex have been found (Luk et al., 2011). There is also evidence that lifelong bilingualism represents a powerful cognitive reserve delaying the onset of dementia by approximately 4 years (Alladi et al., 2013; Craik et al., 2010). The primary goal of this study is to investigate the relationship between EF and bilingualism in healthy older adults. While some behavioral studies in older adults have reported better performance in bilinguals than monolinguals on cognitive tasks, there are some other studies that have not found differences in performance between bilinguals and monolinguals. The present research aims to explore which of these views is correct.



  • Degirmenci, M. G., Grossmann, J. A., Meyer, P., & Teichmann, B. (2022). The role of bilingualism in executive functions in healthy older adults: A systematic review. International Journal of Bilingualism, 136700692110512.



  • Degirmenci, M.G., Ikier, S., Altan-Atalay, A., (2017, March). The Frontal Lobe Functions in Inattentional Blindness and a Search for an Implicit Memory Trace. Poster presented at the International Convention of Psychological Science, Wien, Österreich.

  • Altuntac, P., Degirmenci, M.G., Dur, S. (2013, July). Effects of Age and Education on Stroop Interference and A Finding Related Performance Factors. Poster presented at the 13th European Congress of Psychology, Stockholm, Schweden.



seit 12/2017 PhD student and scholarship recipient (Stipendiaten) at the Network Aging Research, University of Heidelberg
2013 - 2016 Master of Science in Cognitive Sciences, Yeditepe University
2007 - 2013 Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Yeditepe University

Editor: Email
Latest Revision: 2022-01-28
zum Seitenanfang/up