How does the bilingual experience sculpt the brain?

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2014 May;15(5):336-45. doi: 10.1038/nrn3709.


The ability to speak two languages often marvels monolinguals, although bilinguals report no difficulties in achieving this feat. Here, we examine how learning and using two languages affect language acquisition and processing as well as various aspects of cognition. We do so by addressing three main questions. First, how do infants who are exposed to two languages acquire them without apparent difficulty? Second, how does language processing differ between monolingual and bilingual adults? Last, what are the collateral effects of bilingualism on the executive control system across the lifespan? Research in all three areas has not only provided some fascinating insights into bilingualism but also revealed new issues related to brain plasticity and language learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Multilingualism*
  • Neurons / physiology*