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• Ojemann and Whitaker (1978) found that electrical stimulation of certain areas in the cortex interrupted naming in both languages.Does a bilingual speaker represent each language in different areas of the brain? • Brain lesions that affect one language and not the otherwould lead to the conclusion that languages are represented in different areas of the brain. whereas stimulation of other areas interrupted naming in only one language. • Extreme cases have shown postoperative impairment in one language with spontaneous recovery after eight months (Paradis and Goldblum 1989). .

.• Klein et al. 1995. (1994). • Other studies have found that bilinguals show activity in left frontal areas of the brain for semantic and phonological analyses of words in both their languages (Klein et al. Wagner et al. a sub cortical area that has been associated with phonological processing. found that naming pictures in second language vs naming pictures in a first language resulted in activation in the putamen. 1996). using PET.

second language. . • Results revealed slower reaction times and an increase in the number of cross-language errors in the alternating condition relative to the singlelanguage condition. or to alternate between each language on successive trials. (1997) was designed to look at this issue using functional MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (fMRI)for Spanish– English bilinguals.• A recent study by Hernandez et al. • Participants were asked to name a picture in their first language.

there was no difference when comparing activation for naming in the first and second language. activation in the prefrontal cortex increased significantly when participants were asked to alternate between languages. However.• In the fMRI study. • Thus it appears that the left prefrontal cortex may also act to reduce the amount of interference between languages (as indexed by slower reaction times and increased cross-language errors .

Cortical Organization For Language .

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What effects does age of second language acquisition have on brain representation? • Recent work using event-related potentials (ERP) supports previous behavioral findings suggesting that second language learning is better in those who learn their second language early. • Mclaughlin and Osterhout (1997) found that college students learning French progressively improve from chance to near-native performance on lexical decision .

. electrophysiological indices revealed sensitivity to French words after only a few weeks of instruction.• However. but it never approached the levels seen in native French speakers. • An increased N400 (a waveform that indexes lexical-semantic processing) for words preceded by semantically unrelated words (coffee-dog) was found as the number of years of exposure to French increased.

but only for those who learned a second language after the age of eleven. however. appeared even for those who learned their second language before the age of four. have found that listening to passages in a first language results in an activation of areas that is not apparent in the second language for late second language learners.• Weber-Fox and Neville (1996) have found differences in the N400 to semantic violations. (1996). Perani et al. . using POSITRON EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY (a measure of localizedbrain activity). • Changes in ERPs to grammatical violations.

and the left inferior parietal lobe). . the left inferior frontal gyrus. • Thus age of acquisition has an effect on electrophysiological measures of brain activity as well as on the neuroanatomical areas that are involved in second language processing.• Example: increased activation in the left and right temporal pole.

Bilingual Brain: Sharper. just as a musician’s brain can be altered by the long hours of practice needed to master an instrument. More Focused • The ability to speak two languages can make bilingual people better able to pay attention than those who can only speak one language. . • Scientists have long suspected that some enhanced mental abilities might be tied to structural differences in brain networks shaped by learning more than one language.

researchers at Northwestern University for the first time have documented differences in how the bilingual brain processes the sounds of speech. even when it is buried in a babble of voices. in ways that make it better at picking out a spoken syllable. compared with those who speak a single language. .Bilingual Brain: Sharper. More Focused • A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

. people who can master more than one language are building a more resilient brain. the head of the research team stated the research conducted has shown that the nervous system of a bilingual person responds to sound in a way that is distinctive from a person who speaks only one language. one more proficient at multitasking. • Through this fine-tuning of the nervous system. setting priorities. Nina Kraus.Bilingual Brain: Sharper. More Focused • Dr.

. they concluded that the more languages someone could speak. • After studying older people who spoke multiple languages.Bilingual Brain: Sharper. More Focused • Researchers from the Center for Health Studies in Luxembourg reported that the ability to speak more than one language also may help protect memory. the better: People who spoke three languages were three times less likely to have cognitive problems compared to bilingual people. Those who spoke four or more languages were five times less likely to develop cognitive problems.

bilingual infants appear to learn the grammars of their two languages as well as babies learning a single language. even when the two languages are as different from one another as English and Japanese. or English and Punjabi.Bilingual Brain: Sharper. More Focused • Researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Infant Studies Centre reported that babies being raised in a bilingual family show from birth a preference for each of the native languages they heard while still in the womb and can readily distinguish between them. • Moreover. .

Investigations on brain plasticity are aimed at improving speech perception and auditory learning in normal and clinical populations. the neural encoding of speech can provide a biological marker of deficient sound encoding. For individuals with speech and language disorders (reading. and how it reacts to differing levels of expertise. while the musician’s brain illustrates how extensive auditory expertise can enhance sensory-cognitive interactions. . auditory processing disorder. how it is disrupted in clinical populations.Nina Kraus is a Professor at Northwestern University. Her research examines the neural encoding of sound in the normal system. investigating the neural encoding of speech and music and its plasticity. autism).