Science University Research Symposium (SURS)


Bilingualism as a Possible Protective Factor in the Relationship Between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Cognition

Publication Date

Fall 2022


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Michael Oliver

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) refer to different forms of traumatic events that an individual experiences during childhood. Although exposed to early in development, research has shown that ACEs negatively impact one’s cognition later in life (Houtepen et al., 2020; Jones & Houry, 2020). While there has been extensive research exploring the relationship between ACEs and cognition, there is minimal research focusing on factors that may protect against such decline. Interestingly, past studies have found that language can positively impact cognition, suggesting that there is an advantage for bilinguals. As such, the current study aims to determine whether linguistic status affects the relationship between ACEs and cognition. It is hypothesized that bilingualism will serve as a protective factor against ACE-related cognitive decline. A total of 40 participants were asked to complete cognitive tasks consisting of numerical and temporal discrimination. Each task consisted of 32 trials, and performance was measured through motor response accuracy and response time. Participants also completed the Language Experience Proficiency Questionnaire (LEAP-Q) and ACEs questionnaire. The LEAP-Q consisted of 16-items and was used to assess a participant’s linguistic status, and the ACEs questionnaire consisted of 10-items where participants checked off which experiences applied to them. Data is still being collected, and we anticipate that ACEs will be negatively correlated with cognitive performance, and that bilingualism will mediate the negative impact that ACEs have on cognition.

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