SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Narrative development and brain activation in L1 and L2

Hideyuki Taura (Ritsumeikan University Professor & Essex University Visiting Fellow)

Date: 2 May 2017Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 2 May 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: S312

Type of Event: Seminar


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Narrative development and brain activation in L1 and L2


This talk is two-fold: (1) Development of L1 narrative skills of a Japanese-English bilingual, and (2) L2 narrative development and brain activation.

The first study tracked a Japanese-English bilingual from childhood (4;09) to adolescence (18;00). Orally collected data were analyzed from both the narrative and linguistic perspectives to determine whether the non-dominant language develops in a similar manner to monolinguals. The results indicate that, even when exposure to the non-dominant language is limited and the two languages are typologically distant from each other, the development of the non-dominant language is similar or identical to that of a monolingual in core linguistic areas, and that a child acquiring two languages simultaneously is able to develop two separate languages. The findings also include some idiosyncratic errors and a unique narrative style, possibly due to L1 influence. The results also imply that extensive and intensive exposure to the nondominant language at or before a certain age may be essential to reach a level similar to monolinguals.

The second study examines the prefrontal cortex, including (1) the Rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (RLPFC) for planning, reasoning, and integration of information, (2) the Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) concerning the working memory, and (3) the Ventrolateral profrontal cortex (VLPFC) recognized as language production area. The preliminary comparison of the fNIRS data from the first and sixth year showed (1) that more (or effective) brain activation was observed in the sixth year, and (2) right hemispheric activation is statistically higher than its left counterpart in the RLPFC and DLPFC, whereas the tendency is the other way around in the VLPFC. Considering the more proficient L2 level in the sixth year, L2 narrative development seems to involve more activation not only in the left (VLPFC) but also in the right hemisphere (RLPFC and DLPFC).

About the speaker

Hideyuki Taura is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Graduate School of Language Education and Information Science at Ritsumeikan University, Japan and he is currently a visiting fellow at Essex University. His research interests include bilingualism, neuro-psycholinguistics, English Language Teaching, teacher training, and teacher development.