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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 7069274, 22 pages
Review Article

Neurolinguistics: Structure, Function, and Connectivity in the Bilingual Brain

Education and Cognitive Development Lab, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, 1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore 637616

Received 27 March 2015; Revised 16 November 2015; Accepted 22 November 2015

Academic Editor: Roberto Sotero

Copyright © 2016 Becky Wong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Advances in neuroimaging techniques and analytic methods have led to a proliferation of studies investigating the impact of bilingualism on the cognitive and brain systems in humans. Lately, these findings have attracted much interest and debate in the field, leading to a number of recent commentaries and reviews. Here, we contribute to the ongoing discussion by compiling and interpreting the plethora of findings that relate to the structural, functional, and connective changes in the brain that ensue from bilingualism. In doing so, we integrate theoretical models and empirical findings from linguistics, cognitive/developmental psychology, and neuroscience to examine the following issues: (1) whether the language neural network is different for first (dominant) versus second (nondominant) language processing; (2) the effects of bilinguals’ executive functioning on the structure and function of the “universal” language neural network; (3) the differential effects of bilingualism on phonological, lexical-semantic, and syntactic aspects of language processing on the brain; and (4) the effects of age of acquisition and proficiency of the user’s second language in the bilingual brain, and how these have implications for future research in neurolinguistics.