Workshop: Bi-/Multilingualism and the Declining Brain

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Bi-/Multilingualism and the Declining Brain: Current evidence and future directions


Room L022 G01, London Road campus, University of Reading, Reading, UK, RG1 5AQ 


Register for free here

Recent evidence has suggested that the bi-/multilingual experience, or the need of the multilingual brain to juggle between several languages, might significantly affect, or even “enhance”, the structure and function of the brain (Bialystok, 2016; García-Pentón et al., 2015). Some research has even suggested that brain degeneration might be halted or delayed in the bilingual brain, leading to the delay of the symptoms of dementia (Alladi et al., 2013), but these suggestions have recently been challenged (Lawton et al., 2015). It is therefore important to look at whether, and how, bi-/multilingualism interacts with the expression and progression of common neurodegenerative diseases.

This day workshop will bring together early career and established researchers in the fields of second language acquisition and cognitive/clinical neuroscience, and will comprise a state-of-the-art snapshot in the field, as well as discuss potential future directions for research.

This free event is part of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) 2017 week, and is co-funded by the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM), the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN), and the European Second Language Association (EuroSLA).

Keynote speaker:


Dr Thomas Bak (University of Edinburgh)



Professor David Green (University College London)

Workshop schedule:

8.45-9.15: Registration

9.15-9.30: Workshop opening

9.30-10.00: Bose, Arpita & Patra, Abhijeet (University of Reading): Word Production In Bilingual Aphasia

10.00-10.30: Woumans, Evy (Ghent University): Bilingualism elicits a four to five year delay in Alzheimer’s symptoms

10.30-11.00: Coffee break

11.00-11.30: Calabria, Marco, et al. (Center for Brain and Cognition, Pompeu Fabra University): Does active bilingualism act as a compensatory mechanism against cognitive decline?

11.30-12.00: Pastoriza-Domínguez, Patricia (Universitat de Barcelona): Mild Cognitive Impairment in Catalan/Spanish Bilinguals and Monolinguals: a Preliminary Discussion

12.00-12.30: Calabria, Marco, et al. (Center for Brain and Cognition, Pompeu Fabra University): Semantic control in multilingualism: insights from semantic dementia

12.30-13.30: Lunch break. Light lunch will be provided

13.30-14.30: Keynote: Thomas Bak (University of Edinburgh): Sex, drugs and bilingualism – opportunities and dangers

14.30-15.00: Massa, Emilie, et al. (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès): Age-related effects on language control and executive control: behavioural and electrophysiological data

15.00-15.30: Filippi, Roberto (UCL Institute of Education): The effects of a multi-linguistic experience across the lifespan: a developmental, neuroconstructivist approach

15.30-16.00: Coffee break

16:00-16.30: Aveledo, Fraibet, et al. (University of Reading): Language impairments in multiple sclerosis and effects of bilingualism: a pilot study

16.30-17.00: D’Souza, Dean (UCL): Raising bilingual children: the effects of bilingual environments on infant cognitive development

17.00-17.30: Antoniou, Mark & Wright, Sarah (MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University, Australia): Future directions for uncovering the mechanism underlying language learning related brain advantages

17.30-18.30: Roundtable discussion chaired by David Green (UCL) to identify future research agendas, challenges in conducting multidisciplinary research, and research needs for early career researchers.

Posters, to be presented throughout the day:

Citron, Francesca et al. (Lancaster University, UK): Comprehension of metaphors in bilinguals: a neuroimaging study

DeLuca, Vince & Pliatsikas, Christos (University of Reading): Linguistic immersion and structural effects on the bilingual brain: a longitudinal study

Hofweber, Julia, et al. (University of Reading): The effects of code-switching on bi-and multilinguals’ executive functions

Keijzer, Merel & van Tol, Marie-Jose (Center for Language and Cognition, University of Groningen): Learning to preserve: foreign language training as a cognitive vaccine to prevent old-age disorders?

Art exhibition:

During the coffee and lunch breaks and at the end of the workshop, guests can attend our art exhibition titled ‘Point of Entry’ by Duncan Swann.


There will be no registration fee for this workshop, but delegates will have to register to secure a place. Register for free here.


Room L022 G01, London Road campus,University of Reading, Reading, UK, RG1 5AQ

Information about how to find us (including a map for the London Road campus) can be found here

General information about Reading can be found here

Instructions for presenters

Length of presentations: 20 min. and 10 min. for discussion. Speakers are kindly asked to bring their presentation on a USB stick, in order for it to be uploaded on our Windows PC right before their session.

Poster format: Portrait, A1 max. The poster boards will be available during the first coffee break and will stay for the entire day.


For informal queries please use the contact form.

Abstract submission information

Abstract submission is now closed. 

We invite submissions from researchers working in all fields of bi-/multilingualism and brain degeneration, looking at young or older populations, with cross-sectional or longitudinal designs, and with behavioural, brain imaging and/or brain stimulation techniques. Submissions focusing on bi-/multilingual populations with major neurological diseases, such as, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis are particularly encouraged.

Types of presentations: Both oral and poster presentations are invited. Two presentations will be exclusively reserved for early career researchers (e.g. graduate students or researchers up to 5 years post PhD). Those interested in being considered for an early career researcher presentation should specify it as part of their submission.

Length of abstracts: paper or poster (max. 300 words, excluding references)