ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (2): 209-220.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.00209

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Second language learning and brain plasticity

CHENG Kai-Wen1,2, DENG Yan-Hui3, YAN Hong-Mei1()   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory for NeuroInformation of Ministry of Education, School of Life Science and Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu 610054, China
    2 School of Foreign Languages, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu 611756, China
    3 Department of Foreign languages, Chengdu Technological University, Chengdu 611730, China
  • Received:2018-03-16 Online:2019-02-15 Published:2018-12-25
  • Contact: YAN Hong-Mei


Brain plasticity refers to any functional change or structural reconfiguration of the brain triggered by environmental stimulation, cognitive demands and behavior experience. About a decade of research with bilingualism and language training shows that, whether we are the young or the old, long-term or short-term L2 learning can influence our brain’s functional pattern as well as its corresponding anatomical changes. Included are the increased volume of gray matter (GM) and density of white matter (WM) as well as the reorganization of neural networks. Long-time and continuous L2 learning will promote functional executive control and its neural underpinnings, which may protect neural reserve against aging. Based on brain plasticity, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies involved are compared and the mechanism of how both functional and structural changes occur in the brain as a function of L2 learning is discussed. Additionally, some suggestions are presented for future exploration.

Key words: L2 learning, brain plasticity, bilingual effect, language training

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