Second language experience modulates functional brain network for the native language production in bimodal bilinguals

Lijuan Zou, Jubin Abutalebi, Benjamin Zinszer, Xin Yan, Hua Shu, Danling Peng, Guosheng Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The functional brain network of a bilingual's first language (L1) plays a crucial role in shaping that of his or her second language (L2). However, it is less clear how L2 acquisition changes the functional network of L1 processing in bilinguals. In this study, we demonstrate that in bimodal (Chinese spoken-sign) bilinguals, the functional network supporting L1 production (spoken language) has been reorganized to accommodate the network underlying L2 production (sign language). Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a picture naming task, we find greater recruitment of the right supramarginal gyrus (RSMG), the right temporal gyrus (RSTG), and the right superior occipital gyrus (RSOG) for bilingual speakers versus monolingual speakers during L1 production. In addition, our second experiment reveals that these regions reflect either automatic activation of L2 (RSOG) or extra cognitive coordination (RSMG and RSTG) between both languages during L1 production. The functional connectivity between these regions, as well as between other regions that are L1- or L2-specific, is enhanced during L1 production in bimodal bilinguals as compared to their monolingual peers. These findings suggest that L1 production in bimodal bilinguals involves an interaction between L1 and L2, supporting the claim that learning a second language does, in fact, change the functional brain network of the first language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1367-1375
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


  • Bilingualism
  • FMRI
  • Functional connectivity
  • Native language production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Second language experience modulates functional brain network for the native language production in bimodal bilinguals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this