“It is in the brain that everything takes place … It is in the brain that the poppy is red, that the apple is odorous, that the skylark sings.”

-Oscar Wilde

A distinguished colleague tells the story of her father, who immigrated to the U.S. from Holland at age 32, and functioned well in English for three decades at home and in his business as an insurance broker. Despite these years of fluency in two languages, he lost the ability to communicate in English (but not Dutch) during hospitalization for a stroke at the age of 63. Reports like the one above are common in the aphasia literature and are interpreted by some to indicate that two languages are represented in different areas of the brain. However, evidence from newer methodologies suggest that both languages are represented in overlapping areas of the brain. Our research along with that of others suggests that neural activity can be overlapping and not depending on a number of factors, including when a language is learned and how well it is spoken. It is in understanding how these factors interact and shape the bilingual brain that is the focus of our research.

%d bloggers like this: