UF Neurotech Dinner

UF Neurotech Dinner

The Dynamics of Learning and Using Two Languages: A Potent Window into Neuroplasticity

Eleonora Rossi, PhD

Assistant Professor
Linguistics Department, University of Florida

Tuesday: May 5, 2020

5:00 pm – Presentation / Discussion
7:00 pm – End (no later than)

Location: Zoom telecon


Learning a second language (L2) past childhood can be a challenging task. At the same time, bilinguals, even at lower levels of proficiency are able to negotiate two languages with relative ease even in the presence of conflicting linguistic structures (Kroll et al., 2014), revealing a fine-tuned system for language control (Abutalebi & Green, 2007). During my talk I will examine the linguistic and neural signatures of second language processing in adult learners, and I will propose that it can be used as a lens to examine the relative plasticity of the linguistic and neural systems.

I will share recent neuroimaging data including EEG oscillatory, and Resting-state EEG data to discuss neuroplasticity in bilingualism. Building on that observation, I will then address the question of how bilinguals manage to negotiate the activity of the two languages in one mind and brain. Towards that goal, I will discuss recent neuroimaging data revealing that bilinguals possess a powerful neural control mechanism that allows successful selection of the language to be spoken. During the talk I I will also discuss some recent data can be a catalyst for reshaping the structure of the brain such as changes in in white-matter pathways, and in resting-state EEG measures of brain oscillatory activity.

Technological advances in understanding rapid neuroplasticity due to new language learning: During the meeting I would also like to discuss with the community a novel approach I am planning to undertake utilizing tDCS and understanding how it might impact the earliest stages on new language learning.

Speaker Bio:

The overarching goal of Dr. Rossi’s work is to understand the linguistics, and neurocognitive bases of bilingual language processing, and its neuroplasticity. Primary tools for her research include linguistic, behavioral and neural measures of language processing using techniques such as electroencephalography (ERPs, TFR analysis, and RS-EEG), eye-tracking, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Dr. Rossi got her MA in Speech Pathology at the University of Padua (Italy) with a thesis on two case studies of bilingual aphasia. She then followed this line of work with her PhD in Linguistics at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands), in which she investigated language priming in agrammatic aphasic speakers. Dr. Rossi’s post-doctoral work took her to Penn State University (US) where she worked with on the neurocognition of bilingualism. Throughout her career Dr. Rossi has built a strong cross-disciplinary research path by developing expertise in formal linguistics, neurolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and cognitive neuroscience. Here at UF, she continues her work on the neural underpinnings of bilingualism across the life span.

Dr. Rossi’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, and other European grant Institutions.