Structural plasticity in the language system related to increased second language proficiency

Stein, Maria; Federspiel, Andrea; Koenig, Thomas; Wirth, Miranka; Strik, Werner; Wiest, Roland; Brandeis, Daniel; Dierks, Thomas (2012). Structural plasticity in the language system related to increased second language proficiency. Cortex, 48(4), pp. 458-465. Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/j.cortex.2010.10.007

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While functional changes linked to second language learning have been subject to extensive investigation, the issue of learning-dependent structural plasticity in the fields of bilingualism and language comprehension has so far received less notice. In the present study we used voxel-based morphometry to monitor structural changes occurring within five months of second language learning. Native English-speaking exchange students learning German in Switzerland were examined once at the beginning of their stay and once about five months later, when their German language skills had significantly increased. We show that structural changes in the left inferior frontal gyrus are correlated with the increase in second language proficiency as measured by a paper-and-pencil language test. Contrary to the increase in proficiency and grey matter, the absolute values of grey matter density and second language proficiency did not correlate (neither on first nor on second measurement). This indicates that the individual amount of learning is reflected in brain structure changes, regardless of absolute proficiency.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Psychiatric Neurophysiology (discontinued)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Management
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology

UniBE Contributor:

Stein, Maria; Federspiel, Andrea; König, Thomas; Wirth, Miranka; Strik, Werner; Wiest, Roland and Dierks, Thomas

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health

ISSN:

0010-9452

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:11

Last Modified:

03 Jun 2014 11:36

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.cortex.2010.10.007

PubMed ID:

21106192

Web of Science ID:

000301685600007

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/1955 (FactScience: 204055)

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