Neuroanatomical Evidence in Support of the Bilingual Advantage Theory

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I want to recommend to you the article “Neuroanatomical Evidence in Support of the Bilingual Advantage Theory”  written by O. A. Olulade N. I. Jamal, D. S. Koo, C. A. Perfetti, C. LaSasso, and G. F. Eden and published the first time in 2015. In 2016 this article was published by the Oxford University Press Medicine.

This article speaks about the “bilingual advantage” theory wich “stipulates that constant selection and suppression between 2 languages results in enhanced executive control”, with others words, bilinguals compared to monolinguals have a superior performance in tasks regarding executive control. In this study they measured gray matter volume in adult bilinguals, reasoning that any executive control-associated benefits should manifest themselves as relatively greater frontal gray matter volume. They observed that SpanishEnglish-speaking bilinguals exhibited greater bilateral frontal gray matter volume compared with English-speaking monolinguals. They worked with early bilinguals who acquired their languages before age 6.

They asked if this observation was attributable to the constant selection and inhibition of 2 spoken languages. To answer this question, they drew on bimodal bilinguals of American Sign Language (ASL) and English who, unlike unimodal bilinguals, can simultaneously use both languages and have been shown not to possess the EC advantage. In this group, there was no greater gray matter volume when compared with monolinguals.

They concluded that the representation of two languages per se is not enough to change the gray matter volume. The important element is the need to choose between two languages. They provided neuroanatomical evidence in support of the bilingual advantage theory with their study.

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