What is different in the bilingual brain? Part II

By François Grosjean

Editor’s Note: This interview, conducted by François Grosjean, originally appeared on the Psychology Today blog, Life as a Bilingual.

Also worth noting, President Eric Barron recently wrote a piece on the Power of Language, highlighting the Center for Language Science. Ping Li runs the Brain, Language, and Computation Lab at Penn State, which is part of the CLS.

A short while back, Ping Li, professor of psychology and linguistics at Penn State, answered a first series of questions on the bilingual brain (see here). We can now continue the interview, and are grateful to him for the time he has devoted to our questions.

Could we go back to the bilingual experience and the impact it has on neuroplasticity, that is how it can lead to functional and physical changes in the brain?

Yes, another unique aspect of how the bilingual experience impacts the brain is related to the fact that bilingual speakers often have to change the language they are using and have to monitor this, not to mention intertwining their languages in the form of code-switches and borrowings. These processes, it has been suggested, result in positive brain changes in the frontal and subcortical brain regions (due to inhibition of the unwanted language(s)) and in the anterior cingulate cortex (due to monitoring).  Continue reading What is different in the bilingual brain? Part II

Colombia Ho

This week, director of research communications Dave Pacchioli is in northern Colombia to observe and write about an ambitious new project led by Penn State scientists Mark Guiltinan and Siela Maximova. Mark and Siela have the sweet job of studying cacao, the plant that gives us chocolate.

Continue reading Colombia Ho

Photo contest winner, and new contest

The winner of our fall At Large contest is this photo of glittering blue-green damselfish amid coral branches on Australia’s Northern Great Barrier Reef. The photo is featured in the Fall 2016 issue of Research|Penn State magazine, which arrives on campus this week.

This image was shot by F. Joseph Pollock, a postdoctoral scholar working with Penn State biologist Mónica Medina, during a sampling trip to Lizard Island in 2015. Continue reading Photo contest winner, and new contest

The hurricane hounds of central Pennsylvania

hurricane from ISS
Courtesy of NASA/ISS

Whenever a hurricane threatens the U.S. or our close neighbors, we look to the National Hurricane Center for predictions of where it will go and how strong it will be, predictions based on techniques and models developed by experts in places like Miami, New Orleans, Charleston, and State College.

Wait, what? Hurricane experts in State College?

Continue reading The hurricane hounds of central Pennsylvania

The research continues: Architectural engineering

It started with Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. The field of architectural engineering owes its beginning to the Great Chicago Fire when, on Sunday evening, October 8, 1879, a fire swept through the city, burning more than three square miles, leaving approximately 100,000 people homeless and 300 people dead. The estimated property loss was $190,000,000, or approximately $450 billion in 2016 dollars.

Architectural Engineering historical marker
Architectural Engineering historical marker, located at east entrance to Engineering Unit A, University Park campus.

While the fire was never actually traced to a cow kicking over a lantern, a gradual change took place while Chicagoans rebuilt their city. Structural steel was developed, the first skyscraper was built, and structural and civil engineering gave birth to architectural engineering.

Continue reading The research continues: Architectural engineering

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