BBC news recently posted an article about a study showing that bilingual children are less likely to get mixed up when forced to multitask.
The original study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The abstract describes the study as follows:
7-month-old infants, raised with 2 languages from birth, display improved cognitive control abilities compared with matched monolinguals. Whereas both monolinguals and bilinguals learned to respond to a speech or visual cue to anticipate a reward on one side of a screen, only bilinguals succeeded in redirecting their anticipatory looks when the cue began signaling the reward on the opposite side. Bilingual infants rapidly suppressed their looks to the first location and learned the new response. These findings show that processing representations from 2 languages leads to a domain-general enhancement of the cognitive control system well before the onset of speech.Of course, the study only dealt with bilingual children who were exposed to two languages from birth, in a one-parent, one language environment. It would be interesting to study children who were exposed first to one language from zero to three years and then to a second language from age three, as a result of language immersion at school, for example.