Seminar by Eleonora Rossi : The Dynamics of Learning and Using Two Languages: A Potent Window into Neuroplasticity


Tuesday, 12 July, 2022 - 11:30 to 12:30

Eleonora is with us via our collaboration of excellence program. She’s an Assistant Professor in the Linguistics Department at the University of Florida. She also has a secondary appointment at the Department of Psychology. Fun fact: Eleonora was also a PhD student at SISSA for a few months, before taking up a scholarship in Groningen to work on the neuropsychology of language.

A full abstract is below :

Learning a second language (L2), past childhood can be a challenging task. At the same time, bilinguals, even at lower levels of proficiency are able to negotiate two languages with relative ease even in the presence of conflicting linguistic structures (Kroll et al., 2014), revealing a fine-tuned system for language control (Abutalebi & Green, 2007). During my talk I will examine the linguistic and neural signatures of second language processing in adult learners, and I will propose that it can be used as a lens to examine the relative plasticity of the linguistic and neural systems. 
I will share recent neuroimaging data including EEG oscillatory, and Resting-state EEG data to discuss neuroplasticity in bilingualism. Building on that observation, I will then address the question of how bilinguals manage to negotiate the activity of the two languages in one mind and brain. Towards that goal, I will discuss recent neuroimaging data revealing that bilinguals possess a powerful neural control mechanism that allows successful selection of the language to be spoken. During the talk, I will also discuss some recent data  can be a catalyst for reshaping the structure of the brain such as changes in in white-matter pathways, and in resting-state EEG measures of brain oscillatory activity, and I will present new data on how variability in bilingual language use is reflected in differential neural oscillations at rest.