Maria suggested that I approach you with this request for help with some
research I'm doing. Any thoughts or suggestions 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.
http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/19/1/19.short) 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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