The effects of interpreting training and expertise on executive functioning: A systematic review

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferencePoster


Interpreting is a highly demanding language activity where processes of comprehension and production of the speech are simultaneously activated with heavy time constraints and no possibility for review. This “immediacy” places a heavy demand on both language and executive control, which makes it of interest for different research fields such as linguistics, cognitive psychology and neurolinguistics. Our understanding of simultaneous interpreting as an extreme case of language processing has significantly grown since the studies conducted by Hervais-Adelmanet al (2015) & Hervais-Adelman et al. (2014) using fMRI to test interpreters. Additionally, the increased amount of behavioral studies emerges the need of a systematic review to better understand the nature of interpreting as an extreme language control task. In this systematic review we have analyzed 20 research articles, which used at least one executive functioning task to test interpreters. The empirically validated theoretical framework by Miyake et al., (2000) was used to investigate which executive functions: “shifting” , “updating” & “inhibition”, was most affected by interpreting training and experience. The results show three effects. First, inhibition is affected most by bilingualism in general than by interpreting, specifically. Secondly, all groups of interpreters (professionals or students) outperformed non-interpreting control groups (either bilinguals, multilinguals, or monolinguals) on updating tasks. As one of the important components of working memory, updating capacity has a significant relationship with interpreting performance. However, the updating skill is not improved by interpreting training and experience, which may suggest that better performance of interpreting groups is related to initial individual differences. Thirdly, the shifting skill is the only executive function that significantly improved as a result of both interpreting training and expertise.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2016
EventConference on Multilingualism - Het Pand, Ghent, Belgium
Duration: 11 Sep 201613 Sep 2016


ConferenceConference on Multilingualism
Internet address


  • interpreting
  • Executive Function
  • Training
  • Bilingualism


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