LOT Summer School 2018

Language and cognition in bilingualism: A neuroscientific perspective

Thomas Bak

Contact




thomas.bak@ed.ac.uk
https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/thomas-bak

Title of the course:

Language and cognition in bilingualism: a neuroscientific perspective

Level:

Intermediate

Course description:

This course will explore how bilingualism interacts with other cognitive functions such as executive functions, attention, memory, social cognition or theory of mind, with a particular emphasis on the neural basis of such an interaction, in healthy brain as well as in neurological diseases such as stroke and dementia. Defining bilingualism in broadest possible terms, including imperfect command of different languages and language learning, I will propose a dynamic lifetime approach, taking into account different contexts of bilingualism, individual choices and changing patterns of language use. I will present in detail the hotly debated issue of the impact of bilingualism on the age of onset of dementia and the possible ways of explaining the contradictory findings. Finally, I will discuss the complex and often misunderstood interactions between biological, social and political aspects of bilingualism and the way in which they can influence the research agenda as well as the interpretation of findings. In the last session I would also like to include a discussion of papers selected and introduced by the participants of the course.


Day-to-day program:

Day 1: From box and arrows models to interactive networks: changing ideas of brain function and mental representation (with a particular emphasis on the relationship between language and motor functions).

Day 2: Never too late: a lifetime perspective on bilingualism and language learning.

Day 3: Cognitive reserve and neural plasticity: the impact of bilingualism on dementia, stroke and aphasia.

Day 4: Finding a path though a forest of confounding variables: the neuroscience of bilingualism in its conceptual and social context.

Day 5: Discussion of papers selected and introduced by the participants of the course.