Dear all

Maria suggested that I approach you with this request for help with some 
research I'm doing. Any thoughts or suggestions that you could offer would be 
very much appreciated.

I'm a masters student at the Institute of Education, and for my dissertation I 
would like to find out whether the regular use of computer programming 
languages creates the same cognitive benefits associated with bilingualism.  
I'm writing to you in the hope that you could recommend some relevant papers 
that I should read - I've found lots of stuff on the cognitive effects of 
computer programming from the 80s and early 90s, but not much after that, and 
I'm wondering if the terminology has changed so I'm missing things, or if it's 
just a topic that has fallen out of fashion.

To explain a bit more, Ellen Bialystok and various colleagues 
(e.g. have recently researched the 
way bilingualism affects cognitive performance over a lifetime. They have found 
that bilinguals perform better in non-verbal tasks requiring conflict 
resolution, such as Stroop and Simon tasks. They suggest that this is due to 
executive control needed to switch between different languages. They did not 
find these advantages in speech-sign bilinguals who can resolve the conflict be 
producing both languages simultaneously. However, from what I've read about the 
problems novices have with learning to programme, they often seem to wrongly 
apply meaning and/or syntax from spoken languages when they're programming, so 
maybe the conflict would exist here, leading to similar structural changes 
which could be indicated through performance in Stroop and Simon tasks. 

Basically, I'm interested in finding any recent work on if/how computer 
programming changes the structure and/or function of the brain. I'd be hugely 
grateful of any suggestions of papers, books or even search terms that I might 
not have thought of. 

Thanks very much for your help.


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