Bilingualism at the core of the brain. Structural differences between bilinguals and monolinguals revealed by subcortical shape analysis.

Abstract:

:Naturally acquiring a language shapes the human brain through a long-lasting learning and practice process. This is supported by previous studies showing that managing more than one language from early childhood has an impact on brain structure and function. However, to what extent bilingual individuals present neuroanatomical peculiarities at the subcortical level with respect to monolinguals is yet not well understood, despite the key role of subcortical gray matter for a number of language functions, including monitoring of speech production and language control - two processes especially solicited by bilinguals. Here we addressed this issue by performing a subcortical surface-based analysis in a sample of monolinguals and simultaneous bilinguals (N=88) that only differed in their language experience from birth. This analysis allowed us to study with great anatomical precision the potential differences in morphology of key subcortical structures, namely, the caudate, accumbens, putamen, globus pallidus and thalamus. Vertexwise analyses revealed significantly expanded subcortical structures for bilinguals compared to monolinguals, localized in bilateral putamen and thalamus, as well as in the left globus pallidus and right caudate nucleus. A topographical interpretation of our results suggests that a more complex phonological system in bilinguals may lead to a greater development of a subcortical brain network involved in monitoring articulatory processes.

journal_name

Neuroimage

journal_title

NeuroImage

authors

Burgaleta M,Sanjuán A,Ventura-Campos N,Sebastian-Galles N,Ávila C

doi

10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.09.073

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2016-01-15 00:00:00

pages

437-445

eissn

1053-8119

issn

1095-9572

pii

S1053-8119(15)00976-3

journal_volume

125

pub_type

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