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Redefining bilingualism as a spectrum of experiences that differentially affect brain structure and function

DeLuca, V., Rothman, J., Bialystok, E. and Pliatsikas, C. (2019) Redefining bilingualism as a spectrum of experiences that differentially affect brain structure and function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116 (15). pp. 7565-7574. ISSN 0027-8424

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1811513116

Abstract/Summary

Learning and using an additional language is shown to have an impact on the structure and function of the brain, including in regions involved in cognitive control and the connections between them. However, the available evidence remains variable in terms of the localization, extent and trajectory of these effects. Variability likely stems from the fact that bilingualism has been routinely operationalized as a categorical variable (bilingual/monolingual), whereas it is a complex and dynamic experience with a number of potentially deterministic factors affecting neural plasticity. Here we present the first study investigating the combined effects of experience-based factors (EBFs) in bilingual language use on brain structure and functional connectivity. EBFs include an array of measures of everyday usage of a second language in different types of immersive settings (e.g., amount of use in social settings). Analyses reveal specific adaptations in the brain, both structural and functional, correlated to individual EBFs and their combined effects. Taken together the data show that the brain adapts to be maximally efficient in the processing and control of two languages, although modulated ultimately by individual language experience.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
ID Code:82614
Uncontrolled Keywords:Bilingualism, neuroplasticity, structural MRI, resting state functional MRI
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences

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