About Penn State PIRE Program


Bilingualism is the norm rather than the exception. In our globalized world there are more people speaking two or multiple languages than a single language, and it is therefore important to study the cognitive, social, linguistic, and brain bases of bilingualism. Recent behavioral, computational, and neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that bilingualism offers distinct cognitive flexibility in normal adults and provides a measure of protection against aging and cognitive decline. It has also shown that knowledge of a second language influences the native language. Research in this area has also supplied new evidence regarding how one's native language impacts the learning of a new language, affording pedagogical insights into effective teaching of foreign languages.

In this PIRE project, investigators at the Pennsylvania State University's Center for Language Science aim at developing an international network of bilingualism research to understand the nature of the bilingual mind and brain, the processes of bilingual language development, and the consequences of bilingualism for cognition. This network will provide a collaborative forum for scientists interested in bilingualism and a context for training the next generation of language scientists with interests in these topics. Training opportunities will be available to undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty, including members from underrepresented groups. Our research will target a wide range of bilinguals from the US and international sites in Asia and Europe, from young Hispanic children whose bilingualism may affect the development of literacy skills, to adult speakers of many different spoken languages, and deaf individuals whose bilingualism entails the use of sign language together with a written language. The outcomes of our research will have broad implications for the sciences of language, mind, and brain, for the education and learning of languages, and for society as a whole.

NSF Abstract