Bilingualism modulates the white matter structure of language-related pathways

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Sini Hämäläinen, Viljami Sairanen, Alina Leminen, Minna Lehtonen
Publication year: 2017
Journal: NeuroImage
Journal acronym: Neuroimage
Volume number: 152
Start page: 249
End page: 257
ISSN: 1095-9572
eISSN: 1095-9572


Learning and speaking a second language (L2) may
result in profound changes in the human brain. Here, we investigated
local structural differences along two language-related white matter trajectories, the arcuate fasciculus
and the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), between early
simultaneous bilinguals and late sequential bilinguals. We also examined
whether early exposure to two languages might lead to a more bilateral
structural organization of the arcuate fasciculus. Fractional anisotropy,
mean and radial diffusivities (FA, MD, and RD respectively) were
extracted to analyse tract-specific changes. Additionally, global
voxel-wise effects were investigated with Tract-Based Spatial Statistics
(TBSS). We found that relative to late exposure, early exposure to L2
leads to increased FA along a phonology-related segment of the arcuate
fasciculus, but induces no modulations along the IFOF, associated to
semantic processing. Late sequential bilingualism, however, was
associated with decreased MD along the bilateral IFOF. Our results
suggest that early vs. late bilingualism may lead to qualitatively
different kind of changes in the structural language-related network.
Furthermore, we show that early bilingualism contributes to the
structural laterality of the arcuate fasciculus, leading to a more bilateral organization of these perisylvian language-related tracts

Last updated on 2020-12-08 at 04:57