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→
Social media exploded earlier this week with a bevy of tweets and memes featuring a rather unimpressed Olympian – and this time, it wasn’t McKayla Maroney.
On Monday night, cameras captured a hooded Michael Phelps appearing to brood and snarl in the direction of South African swimmer Chad le Clos, who was shadowboxing in preparation for the 200-meter butterfly semifinal.
Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared on The Conversation. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” was released on July 31, 2016.
Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard, but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age … [he] had a thin face, knobbly knees … and wore round glasses held together with a lot of Scotch tape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose.
And so we are introduced to our protagonist, The Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One: Harry Potter. The seven books about the young wizard and his time at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have been translated into 73 different languages and sold over 450m copies worldwide. And readers wouldn’t guess, after author J K Rowling’s introduction of Harry, that the orphaned boy would be the one to defeat the powerful and devastating Dark Lord Voldemort.
Harry’s home life wasn’t as exciting as his rising wizardry: he was snubbed by his only remaining family, bullied by his cousin and classmates, and resided in that dark cupboard under the stairs. His uncle Vernon, aunt Petunia, and cousin Dudley Dursley — to whom he was passed as an infant after the death of his parents — ensure that he’s properly malnourished at all times. After spending a day cleaning the Dursleys’ entire house and working outside in the blazing July heat (on his 12th birthday, no less), Aunt Petunia prepares for Harry “two slices of bread and a lump of cheese” before sending him off to hide during their dinner party with the Masons. It’s no wonder he was so small for his age.
Research on the bilingual brain has gone through several stages over the years: the study of aphasic polyglots, experimental work on language lateralization in bilinguals, and now brain imaging studies that examine language processing and neural structures and connections between them. One of the leading researchers in this field is Ping Li, professor of psychology and linguistics at Penn State. He works on the neural and computational bases of language representation and learning and has kindly accepted to answer a few of our questions. We wish to thank him wholeheartedly.
Before addressing the issue of what is different in the bilingual brain, as compared to the monolingual brain, can you quickly go through what is clearly similar?
It may be helpful to say at the outset that we are talking about the human brain, bilingual or not, which is the only brain that can learn and use complex natural languages for communication. No brain of any other species on our planet has language like ours, despite claims that other animals may also have sophisticated communication systems. Continue reading What is different in the bilingual brain?→
Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared on The Conversation on July 2, 2015. The fourth season of Orange is the New Black was released on Friday, June 17, 2016.
The inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary, the fictional setting for the Netflix TV series Orange is the New Black, are not shy women.
They’ve landed in prison for murder, fraud, stalking, drug-smuggling, theft, and political activism. They do illegal activities behind the officers’ backs. They make their opinions known loud and clear to one another. And they’re not opposed to throwing a few punches, if duty calls.
But all will cease if you threaten to send them to the SHU. Why?