Notwithstanding rising interest, a coherent picture of the brain's representation of two languages has not yet been achieved. In the present meta-analysis we analysed a large number of functional neuroimaging studies focusing on language processing in bilinguals. We used activation likelihood estimation (ALE) to enucleate activation areas involved in bilingual processing and control of different types of linguistic knowledge – lexico-semantics, grammar, phonology – in L1 and L2. Results show that surprisingly, compared to L2, lexico-semantic processing in L1 involves a widespread system of cortico-subcortical regions, especially when L2 is acquired later in life. By contrast, L2 processing recruits regions exceeding the L1 semantic network and relating to executive control processes. Only few regions displayed selective activation for grammar and phonology. Analyses of language switching highlight a functional overlap between domain-general and bilingual language control networks. Collectively, our findings point to a shared neural network for L1 and L2 with few differences depending on the linguistic level. The emerging picture identifies under-investigated issues, offering clear directions for future research.

Bilingual language processing: A meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies

Sulpizio S.;Del Maschio N.;Fedeli D.;Abutalebi J.
2020-01-01

Abstract

Notwithstanding rising interest, a coherent picture of the brain's representation of two languages has not yet been achieved. In the present meta-analysis we analysed a large number of functional neuroimaging studies focusing on language processing in bilinguals. We used activation likelihood estimation (ALE) to enucleate activation areas involved in bilingual processing and control of different types of linguistic knowledge – lexico-semantics, grammar, phonology – in L1 and L2. Results show that surprisingly, compared to L2, lexico-semantic processing in L1 involves a widespread system of cortico-subcortical regions, especially when L2 is acquired later in life. By contrast, L2 processing recruits regions exceeding the L1 semantic network and relating to executive control processes. Only few regions displayed selective activation for grammar and phonology. Analyses of language switching highlight a functional overlap between domain-general and bilingual language control networks. Collectively, our findings point to a shared neural network for L1 and L2 with few differences depending on the linguistic level. The emerging picture identifies under-investigated issues, offering clear directions for future research.
2020
Bilingualism; fMRI; GingerALE; Language; Meta-analysis; PET
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11768/98371
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 54
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 48
social impact