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Microstructural anatomical differences between bilinguals and monolinguals



DTI is an established method to study cerebral white-matter microstructure. Two established measures of DTI are fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) and both differ for bilingual and monolingual speakers. Less is known about differences in two other measures called radial (RD) and axial diffusivity (AD). We report differences in mean RD and AD-values in the right superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) and forceps minor between bilingual (Hindi–English) and monolingual (English) speakers as well as differences in mean FA-values in the anterior thalamic radiation, right inferior fronto-occipital and inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF) and mean MD-values in forceps minor and bilateral SLF. Noteworthy, a positive correlation between L2 proficiency and mean RD-values in the right SLF was observed. We suggest that changes in the geometry of white matter tracts reflect regular bilingual language experience and contend that neuroplasticity in right SLF results from demands on cognitive control for bilingual speakers.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Professor Jubin Abutalebi, Faculty of Psychology, University San Raffaele, Via Olgettina 58, 20132 Milan,


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* This research was supported by Research Grant 754412 awarded to Brendan S. Weekes from the General Research Fund, Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.



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