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Bilingual Plasticity: Plasticity In The Brains Of Bilinguals

1235 words - 5 pages

The brain has always had an amazing ability to adapt to its circumstances, an evolutionary edge, coupled with humanities capacity for reason and logic has made for quite a versatile organ. Researching neuroplasticity and non-synaptic plasticity can lead to a better understanding of how the brain adapts as well as how a normal brain functions. Neuroplasticity has the potential to affect brain mechanism related to emotional, motivational and cognitive processes (Crocker, Heller, Warren, O'Hare, Infantolino & Miller, 2012). Another functional and extraordinary ability of the brain is language. Language can define so much about how we think and yet after a brief window of time we find it very difficult to learn new languages. It is certainly not impossible to learn a second or third language but, it seems to be the case that plasticity occurs more with children (Giannakopoulou, Uther & Ylinen, 2013). Perhaps because plasticity can occur during developmental stages when language development is taking place or younger brains are just have more plastic potential. Understanding how plasticity and bilingualism interrelate can give us a better picture of how the brain deals with language, how this stimuli causes neuroplasticity to occur and how that plasticity can effect language functions. Does developing bilingual skills cause brain plasticity?
First we must try to establish a causational relationship so that we know it is the stimuli of bilingualism that causes the plasticity to occur. One journal tries to establish whether bilingualism can promote experience-dependent plasticity, in a similar way as musicians developing heightened processing in subcortical structures (Krizman, Marian, Shook, Skoe & Kraus, 2012). Specifically they predicted that there would be enhanced cABRs, caused by modulate subcortical processing of auditory stumuli, to the syllable “da” (Krizman, Marian, Shook, Skoe & Kraus, 2012). The results support the claim. Bilinguals did better at sustained selective attention when listing for the specific speech sound under multitalker babble conditions. They also showed enhanced subcortical representation of the fundamental frequency of the syllable “da”. (Krizman, Marian, Shook, Skoe & Kraus, 2012) This is evidence that bilingualism causes neuroplasticity in subcortical structures allowing for enhanced processing of certain sound stimuli.
Another way to go about showing that bilingualism and plasticity are related is shown when the effects on perception are studied when effected by inconsistency across languages in relation to what is being perceived. In this case we have Greeks learning English and the inconsistencies correspond to colour terminology. Via semantic mapping of native colour terms and colour similarity judgment, along with indexing of perceptual processing by an electrophysiological correlate of visual detection of colour luminance a convergence of functions is shown. This implies that language can be...

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