Cognitive adaptations induced by a multi-language input in early development

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2015 Dec;35:80-6. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2015.07.003. Epub 2015 Jul 25.


Children around the world successfully adapt to the specific requirements of their physical and social environment, and they readily acquire any language they are exposed to. Still, learning simultaneously two languages has been a continuous concern of parents, educators and scientists. While the focus has shifted from the possible costs to the possible advantages of bilingualism, the worries still linger that early bilingualism may cause delays and confusion. Here we adopt a less dichotomist view, by asking what specific adaptations might result from simultaneously learning two languages. We will discuss findings that point to a surprising plasticity of the cognitive system allowing young infants to cope with the bilingual input and reaching linguistic milestones at the same time as monolinguals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Multilingualism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*