Event Abstract

Anatomical changes in the bilingual brain: combining voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)

  • 1 Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language, Spain
  • 2 Cuban Neuroscience Center, Cuba
  • 3 University General Hospital Gregorio Marañon, Spain
  • 4 Bennito Menni Complex Assistencial en Salut Mental, Spain
  • 5 IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for Science, Spain

Effects of training on brain anatomy have been documented for different areas of expertise (e.g. Carreiras et al., 2009; Mechelli et al, 2004). Here we used VBM and DTI/Tractography to investigate brain plasticity (changes in white and grey matter) produced by second language (L2) acquisition. T1 structural images and DTI were acquired in 12 Spanish-Basque bilinguals and 11 Spanish monolinguals. Data were analyzed with FSL-VBM and FSL-TBSS tools respectively. Group comparisons between bilinguals and monolinguals were performed using permutation-based nonparametric tests. To examine the relationship between grey and white matter differences we performed a connectivity analysis using FSL probabilistic tractography. VBM revealed differences in 3 major areas in grey-matter volume: left insula, frontal operculum, right/left middle cingulum and right superior/middle temporal gyrus. The major FA difference was found in the junction between right uncinate fasciculus and inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus. The cluster of FA difference was used as seed points for tracking and 116 gray-matter regions were parcellated from T1 images to count the total of fibers in each tract reaching these regions. We found significantly more fibers from the seed points to superior temporal and inferior occipital gyrus, caudato, cuneos, insula and posterior cingulum in the right hemisphere. We also found significantly more fibers crossing the left hemisphere via splenium to middle frontal gyrus, superior occipital and temporal gyrus, caudato, rolandic operculum, insula and cuneos. Some of these areas identified here by two imaging techniques, are crucial to language processing. These results suggest brain plasticity changes related to L2 acquisition are mediated by grey and white matter changes.

Keywords: Language, TDI

Conference: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI), Palma, Mallorca, Spain, 25 Sep - 29 Sep, 2011.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Topic: Poster Sessions: Neural Bases of Language

Citation: García-Pentón L, Iturria-Medina Y, Aleman-Gómez Y, Canales-Rodríguez EJ and Carreiras M (2011). Anatomical changes in the bilingual brain: combining voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Conference Abstract: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI). doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2011.207.00182

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Received: 19 Nov 2011; Published Online: 28 Nov 2011.

* Correspondence: Dr. Lorna García-Pentón, Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language, San Sebastián, Spain, l.garcia@bcbl.eu