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Neurolinguistics

Structural plasticity in the bilingual brain

Nature volume 431, page 757 (14 October 2004) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Humans have a unique ability to learn more than one language — a skill that is thought to be mediated by functional (rather than structural) plastic changes in the brain1. Here we show that learning a second language increases the density of grey matter in the left inferior parietal cortex and that the degree of structural reorganization in this region is modulated by the proficiency attained and the age at acquisition. This relation between grey-matter density and performance may represent a general principle of brain organization.

Proficiency in a second language and age at acquisition affect grey-matter density.

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Affiliations

  1. *Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, 12 Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK

    • Andrea Mechelli
    • , Jenny T. Crinion
    • , Uta Noppeney
    • , John O'Doherty
    • , John Ashburner
    • , Richard S. Frackowiak
    •  & Cathy J. Price
  2. †Fondazione Santa Lucia, Roma 00179, Italy

    • Richard S. Frackowiak

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrea Mechelli.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/431757a

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