The bilingual structural connectome: Dual-language experiential factors modulate distinct cerebral networks

Davide Fedeli, Nicola Del Maschio, Simone Sulpizio, Jason Rothman, Jubin Abutalebi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bilingualism is a natural laboratory for studying whether the brain's structural connectome is influenced by different aspects of language experience. However, evidence on how distinct components of bilingual experience may contribute to structural brain adaptations is mixed. The lack of consistency, however, may depend, at least in part, on methodological choices in data acquisition and processing. Herein, we adopted the Network Neuroscience framework to investigate how individual differences in second language (L2) exposure, proficiency, and age of acquisition (AoA) – measured as continuous between-subject variables – relate to whole-brain structural organization. We observed that L2 exposure modulated the connectivity of two networks of regions subserving language comprehension and production. L2 proficiency was associated with enhanced connectivity within a rostro-caudal network, which supports language selection and word learning. Moreover, L2 AoA and exposure affected inter-hemispheric communication between control-related regions. These findings expand mechanistic knowledge about particular environmental factors associated with specific variation in brain structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104978
JournalBrain and Language
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Bilingualism
  • Connectome
  • DTI
  • Individual differences
  • Second Language
  • Structural Connectivity
  • Tractography
  • White Matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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