IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Child Bilingual Brain Imaging

A research project investigating whether bilingual experience alters how the brain is connected.

This project runs from 4 June 2018 - 3 June 2022.


The way our brains develop is influenced by childhood experiences, whether deprived or enriched. Growing strong connections between distant brain regions improves thinking skills such as ignoring distractions, switching between tasks and focusing on tasks.

Although the number of bilingual children is increasing worldwide, we know little about how this enriched language environment influences the brain structure. Are the brains of bilingual children better connected?


We will compare MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans and thinking and language skills from bilingual and monolingual school-aged children. The results will tell us whether early bilingualism could improve children’s general school readiness and educational outcomes.

We will look at networks involved in control skills and at networks involved in language skills. Specifically, we will first examine how brain connectivity differs between bilingual and monolingual children.

Secondly, we will examine how age of second language acquisition, language usage, and proficiency in two languages, influences brain connectivity in bilingual children.

Our team

The following video describes a child attending a clinical MRI scan. It will provide a good overview of what to expect if you come to visit us for a research MRI.

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duQR23cR5Gs