Language communication is an abstract and complex behavior that demands high levels of cognitive functioning. Neurolinguistics, an interdisciplinary field of study involving Linguistics and Neuroscience, studies the neuronal correlates of various cognitive processes such as language comprehension, construction and acquisition[1] . Language acquisition is a subfield of considerable interest as it is well known that the age at which language is acquired significantly influences the manipulation of that language. Studies of bilingualism (acquisition of two native languages during early childhood) and second language acquisition (SLA, learning a language in addition to native language) show that processes involving the second language (L2) are represented by different neural circuits, depending on whether L2 was learned as a native language[2] [3] . While there is no definitive answer to whether the differences in organizational paradigm of language in the brain is due to timing of the acquisitions (prior or post to the critical period of learning,) neuroimaging and event related potential (ERP) studies of bilingualism and SLA yield valuable insight to the understanding of the neuronal correlates of language comprehension and manipulation. Specifically, structures involved in language switching, bilingual associated cognitive advantage and disadvantages and the neural circuits implicated in non-native language acquisition has generated considerable research interest within the discipline.

Table of Contents

Bilingualism (SJ Lee)

1 General Overview
2 Neural Basis of Language switching
  • 2-1 Language switch
  • 2-2 Subcortical organization
    • 2-2a General Structures for language
    • 2-2b Switch-specific areas
    • 2-2c age factor
  • 2-3 Late bilingual studies
    • 2-3a High proficiency
    • 2-3b Varying proficiency
  • 2-4 Early Bilingual studies
    • 2-4a Early and high proficiency
3 Cognitive Reserve
  • 3-1 White matter integrity
    • 3-1a Fractional Anisotropy (FA)
    • 3-1b White matter tracts in early childhood (Figure 1 of Mohades et al.)
    • 3-1c White matter integrity in adulthoods
  • 3-2 Alzheimer’s Disease
4 Criticism
  • 4-1 Brain imaging methods
  • 4-2 Research paradigms and designs.

Second language acquisition (J. Jiang)

  1. Brain regions of second language manipulation

  2. Neural circuit specific to performance of second language acquisition

  1. ^

    Kristin Denham, A. L. Linguistics for Everyone: An Introduction. (Michael Rosenberg, 2010).
  2. ^ Chihiro, H., Takashi, H., Tadashi, N., Kikuo, O. & Manabu, H. Neural Mechanisms of LanguageSwitch. Journal of Neurolinguistics 25, 44-61 (2012).
  3. ^ Tan, L. H. et al. Activity levels in the left hemisphere caudate-fusiform circuit predict how well a second language will be learned. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108, 2540-2544, doi:10.1073/pnas.0909623108 (2011).