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Chapter Two - Neural Representations and Language Processing in the Bilingual Brain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2023

John W. Schwieter
Affiliation:
Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario
Julia Festman
Affiliation:
University College of Teacher Education Tyrol
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Summary

In this chapter, we explore neural representations and language processing in the bilingual brain. We begin by discussing key language areas and lateralization in bilinguals and look at some of the primary functions of the hemispheres, noting that, in fact, many brain functions – including bilingual language processing – are distributed across both hemispheres. We then consider the function of the four lobes of the brain and identify important regions for language, including Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, which have been found to support language production and comprehension, respectively. The chapter then addresses how early or late exposure to a second language (L2) affects the cortical representation of the two languages. We then turn to specific processes of language use, namely how bilinguals comprehend and produce language. Overall, we have seen that the neural representations and processing of two languages are far from being fully understood. Nonetheless, we are gaining a clearer picture of the dynamic nature of two languages in one brain and the many individual differences that can affect this, such as age of acquisition (AoA) and proficiency.

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Chapter
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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References

Further Reading

Costa, A. (2019). The bilingual brain: And what it tells us about the science of language (J. W. Schwieter, Trans.). Allen Lane/Penguin Random House.Google Scholar
De Groot, A. (2011). Language and cognition in bilinguals and multilinguals: An introduction. Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
Hernández, A. (2013). The bilingual brain. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Vaid, J. (Ed.). (2016). Language processing in bilinguals: Psycholinguistic and neuropsychological perspectives. Routledge.Google Scholar

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