Researchers widely agree that first and second languages are handled similarly in the brain. According to previous research, proficient bilinguals’ brain activity is broadly quite similar when accessing their first and second languages.
However, the literature exploring this until now has relied on imaging methods that can tell us where in the brain there is activity, but not how languages are represented in those areas. Distinct patterns of activation may have differentiated first and second languages in those same regions all this time, and by relying on traditional forms of imaging analysis alone, we could have been none the wiser.
Thanks to new imaging methods, however, we’re finally able to take a look at activation in these areas in a much more detailed way. Now, newly published work suggests that languages are sometimes represented more distinctly than we thought. Continue reading →