The influence of adult foreign-language acquisition on human brain organization is poorly understood. We studied cortical thickness and hippocampal volumes of conscript interpreters before and after three months of intense language studies. Results revealed increases in hippocampus volume and in cortical thickness of the left middle frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, and superior temporal gyrus for interpreters relative to controls. The right hippocampus and the left superior temporal gyrus were structurally more malleable in interpreters acquiring higher proficiency in the foreign language. Interpreters struggling relatively more to master the language displayed larger gray matter increases in the middle frontal gyrus. These findings confirm structural changes in brain regions known to serve language functions during foreign-language acquisition.
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