Neurolinguistics: structural plasticity in the bilingual brain

Nature. 2004 Oct 14;431(7010):757. doi: 10.1038/431757a.


Humans have a unique ability to learn more than one language--a skill that is thought to be mediated by functional (rather than structural) plastic changes in the brain. Here we show that learning a second language increases the density of grey matter in the left inferior parietal cortex and that the degree of structural reorganization in this region is modulated by the proficiency attained and the age at acquisition. This relation between grey-matter density and performance may represent a general principle of brain organization.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / physiology
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Language*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Linguistics
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Reading
  • Speech
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom
  • Writing