Bilingualism and Neuroplasticity: a talk (Jan 15, UiT)

The research group AcqVA is hosting a talk on Bilingualism and Neuroplasticity next Wednesday, January 15. The talk will be held by Eleonora Rossi (now at the University of Florida). All are welcome to attend.

The talk will take place at the Humanities and Social Sciences (SVHUM) building in room E.0101, starting at 12:00. The title and abstract for her talk can be found below these lines.

The dynamics of learning and using two languages: A potent window into neuroplasticity

Learning a second language (L2) past childhood can be a challenging task. At the same time, bilinguals, even at lower levels of proficiency are able to negotiate two languages with relative ease even in the presence of conflicting linguistic structures (Kroll et al., 2014), revealing a fine-tuned system for language control (Abutalebi & Green, 2007). During my talk I will examine the linguistic and neural signatures of second language processing in adult learners, and I will propose that it can be used as a lens to examine the relative plasticity of the linguistic and neural systems.

I will present behavioral and neuroimaging data analyzing the processing of grammatical structures that are not shared between the native and the second language. Electrophysiological (EEG) results will provide evidence supporting the view that L2 learners show similar neural signatures to those observed in native speakers, suggesting that there is a higher degree of plasticity for adult L2 learners than typically assumed. Building on that observation, I will then address the question of how bilinguals manage to negotiate the activity of the two languages in one mind and brain. Towards that goal, I will discuss recent neuroimaging data revealing that bilinguals possess a powerful neural control mechanism that allows successful selection of the language to be spoken. I will also demonstrate that the recruitment of those neural substrates is shaped by different language use. Finally, I will discuss how being exposed to and learn an L2 past childhood can be a catalyst for reshaping the structure of the brain. I will present data demonstrating changes in white-matter pathways, and in resting-state EEG measures of brain oscillatory activity.