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The effects of bi/multilingualism on brain structure and function

   School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences

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  Dr Christos Pliatsikas  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Increasing evidence suggests that speaking two or more languages has particular effects on the brain: First, it appears to change its function, structure and connectivity (Pliatsikas, 2020; Pliatsikas and Luk, 2016), and second, it appears to enhance the cognitive abilities of bi-/multilinguals, as well as to preserve them in older age, creating what has been dubbed a “cognitive reserve” in elderly bilinguals (Bialystok, Craik, & Luk, 2012). The proposed research aims to build on the existing literature by using behavioural and neuroimaging methods to investigate questions such as: how do these behavioural and structural effects develop over time, and with increased bilingual experience? Are factors such as proficiency and immersion in bilingual environments critical? What are the effects in situations such as bimodal bilingualism (where individuals use a sign and a spoken language) and bidialectalism/diglossia (where individuals speak two variants of the same language?). For more details, check the relevant lab page ( 

Funding Notes

See University of Reading funding competitions including the Magdelen Vernon Studentship (PCLS) and University-wide International Studentship
BSc (first class or 2.1) and MSc Merit or Distinction, in Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Neurolinguistics, or a related discipline


"Pliatsikas, C., Pereira-Soares, S.M., Voits, T., Deluca, V., & Rothman, J. (2021): Bilingualism is a long-term cognitively challenging experience that modulates metabolite concentrations in the healthy brain. Scientific Reports.
Pliatsikas, C., Meteyard, L., Veríssimo, J., DeLuca, V., Shattuck, K., & Ullman, MT. (2020): The effect of bilingualism on brain development from early childhood to young adulthood. Brain Structure and Function. 225, 2131–2152. DOI: 10.1007/s00429-020-02115-5
Pliatsikas, C. (2020): Understanding structural plasticity in the bilingual brain: The Dynamic Restructuring Model. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. 23 (2) 459-471 . DOI: 10.1017/S1366728919000130
DeLuca, V., Rothman, J., & Bialystok, E., & Pliatsikas, C. (2019): Redefining bilingualism as a spectrum of experiences that differentially affect brain structure and function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116 (15) 7565-7574. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1811513116"
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