Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences Brown Bag Series 2013

 言語及聽覺科學部 教育學院 Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences
Faculty of Education Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences Brown Bag Series 2013 Second language proficiency as a neuroprotective factor in aging populations Dr Jubin Abutalebi University San Raffaele, Milan Time: 12:00 noon Date: Wednesday, 17 April 2013 Venue: Room 802, Laboratory for Communication Science, Meng Wah Building, University of Hong Kong Abstract: There is abundant evidence showing that the left temporal pole (TP) is involved in language processing, and especially in naming. The left TP is believed to function as a hub for linking modality‐specific conceptual properties of objects (Jefferies & Lambon Ralph, 2006) and to be involved in lexical retrieval (Tranel, 2009). Interestingly, both TP structure (in terms of grey matter density) and naming abilities decrease in aging populations. We investigated whether grey matter density of the TP is preserved in a group of aging bilingual speakers and whether this varies as a function of language proficiencies in L1 (first language) and L2 (second language). 36 aging bilinguals from Hong Kong (Cantonese‐English) and (Cantonese‐Mandarin) bilinguals participated in this study and underwent structural neuroimaging. Behavioral testing was conducted in order to investigate their performance on picture naming in L1 and L2. Participants were also assessed on the MMSE and the SES (Socio‐Economical Status) was determined. Grey matter density was analyzed with the VBM (Voxel based Morphometry) technique. Grey matter (GM) density in the left TP, as expected, negatively correlated with the age of the participants. However, there was a positive correlation between picture naming performance overall and GM density in the left TP. Interestingly, this correlation was significant only for L2 naming and not L1 naming. Of note, MMSE and SES scores did not correlate with TP grey matter. In conclusion, our findings suggest that in bilinguals the structural integrity of the left TP during aging may be protected by better second language naming performance. About the Speaker Jubin Abutalebi, MD, born in Vienna (Austria) is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Psychology, University San Raffaele, Milan and a Cognitive Neurologist in the San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy. He graduated with Summa cum Laude at the University of Brescia Medical School in 1998, and specialized with Summa Cum Laude in Neurology at the University Vita Salute San Raffaele in 2003. His main research activities focus on the cerebral architecture underlying cognitive functions in brain‐damaged and normal healthy populations by employing functional neuroimaging techniques. His research has contributed to understanding the cerebral basis of bilingualism and the neural mechanism of language recovery in aphasia. He is the incoming Editor‐in‐Chief (starting January 2014) of the prestigious Cambridge University Press journal “Bilingualism: Language and Cognition”. Since 2011, Dr. Abutalebi has also been pursuing a PhD in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the Faculty of Education of the University of Hong Kong. ALL ARE WELCOME