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Bilingualism in the Brain

Do bilingual people have double the brain area dedicated to language, or is some of the space overlapping?
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Project description

To be successful in the present day world, it is important for people to know more than one language for communication, learning, and business. The accepted definition of bilingualism is being able to “speak two languages fluently”, but the definition in the scientific field has been long debated. The reason for debate behind who is considered bilingual is due to a lot of factors, such as one’s skill level in the language, their nativity to the language, their upbringing, and age. Being bilingual has become very predominant and 43% of the population of the world is bilingual. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the true definition of bilingualism and the various factors involved, one being the brain’s area of language production and comprehension. In this paper, the central question I aim to answer is, does a bilingual brain, even when a bilingual is only using one language, process linguistic information in the same manner as a monolingual brain? First, I define bilingualism and what classifies someone as bilingual with all the factors taken into consideration. Additionally, I discuss which parts of the brain are involved in language production and comprehension. I also dissect how a monolingual brain works in comparison to a bilingual brain, and reference various other studies that have investigated how the brain processes language. Finally, I address my question regarding which cognitive processes are the same between monolinguals and bilinguals, and which are different. I found that there is a large amount of shared brain representation between the two languages, and the brain is able to identify languages through activation patterns in either language.

Bilingualism in the Brain
Project outcome

Simone wrote a research paper to share her findings.

PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Neuroscience, sensory perception, neural circuits, scientific writing, cognitive science
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