Anatomical connectivity changes in the bilingual brain

Lorna García-Pentón, Alejandro Pérez Fernández, Yasser Iturria-Medina, Margaret Gillon-Dowens, Manuel Carreiras

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

How the brain deals with more than one language and whether we need different or extra brain language sub-networks to support more than one language remain unanswered questions. Here, we investigate structural brain network differences between early bilinguals and monolinguals. Using diffusion-weighted MRI (DW-MRI) tractography techniques and a network-based statistic (NBS) procedure, we found two structural sub-networks more connected by white matter (WM) tracts in bilinguals than in monolinguals; confirming WM brain plasticity in bilinguals. One of these sub-networks comprises left frontal and parietal/temporal regions, while the other comprises left occipital and parietal/temporal regions and also the right superior frontal gyrus. Most of these regions have been related to language processing and monitoring; suggesting that bilinguals develop specialized language sub-networks to deal with the two languages. Additionally, a complex network analysis showed that these sub-networks are more graph-efficient in bilinguals than monolinguals and this increase seems to be at the expense of a whole-network graph-efficiency decrease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-504
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroImage
Volume84
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Bilingualism
  • Efficiency
  • Language
  • Network
  • Tractography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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