Reference : Functional connectivity and structural analyses in the bilingual brain: implications ...
Scientific congresses, symposiums and conference proceedings : Poster
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Neurosciences & behavior
Functional connectivity and structural analyses in the bilingual brain: implications for arithmetic.
Van Rinsveld, Amandine mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Education, Culture, Cognition and Society (ECCS) >]
Dricot, Laurence [Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium > Institute Of Neuroscience]
Guillaume, Mathieu mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Education, Culture, Cognition and Society (ECCS) >]
Schiltz, Christine mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Education, Culture, Cognition and Society (ECCS) >]
Organization for Human Brain Mapping annual meeting
14-06-2015 to 18-06-2015
HI, United States
[en] Do bilinguals use the same brain networks than monolinguals when they solve arithmetic problems? We investigated this question by using resting-state functional connectivity and cortical thickness measurements. Recent studies highlighted differences of functional connectivity (e.g. Grady et al., 2015) and of brain structure (e.g. Klein et al., 2014) between bilinguals and monolinguals. However, no study so far has linked these differences to arithmetic problem solving, a cognitive skill that may at least partially rely on language processing.

Our study population was composed of carefully selected German-French bilinguals (N = 20) who acquired each language at the same age, leading to high proficiency levels in both languages. These bilinguals all attended university in their second language at the time of the experiment, namely French. Therefore we selected a control group of French-speaking monolinguals (N = 12). Structural and functional images of brain activity were collected using a 3T MRI scanner. Functional scans of resting-state were acquired during a 6-minute session, with eyes closed. A 3D T1-weighted data set encompassing the whole brain was acquired to provide detailed anatomy (1 mm3), which was used both for the co-registration of functional data and for morphometric analyses. Prior to the scanning session, all participants took a behavioral test measuring their arithmetic skill.

For the resting-state part of the study, we generated spheres based on ROIs reported in the literature as magnitude manipulation- and language-related areas during arithmetic problem solving (Klein et al. 2013), and addition-related areas reported in a recent meta-analysis (Arsalidou & Tayor, 2011). We used these spheres as seed regions for the analyses. We correlated resting activations between these regions and compared these correlations in bilinguals versus monolinguals. Results showed significantly higher correlations between the three seed regions in monolinguals than in bilinguals (all ts > 2.306; ps < .05), suggesting that regions used to solve arithmetic problems form a different network in bilinguals than in monolinguals. To control for general differences between both populations, we also created two spheres in areas not specifically related to neither arithmetic nor language regions. There were no significant differences between groups in terms of correlations of these regions with resting-state activations. These results suggest that the differences observed in arithmetic problem solving regions could not account for by general differences between groups.

In the second part of the study, we aimed at verifying whether the differences in functional connectivity we observed between bilinguals and monolinguals coincide with structural brain differences. We measured and compared cortical thickness in both groups. Then we compared the correlations between cortical thickness and arithmetic skill in both groups (considering differences with corrected p < .001). Cortical thickness of areas commonly associated to language or number processing correlated differently with arithmetic skill as a function of the group: Higher cortical thickness of left pars triangularis, bilateral superior parietal gyri and precuneus positively correlated with arithmetic skill in monolinguals but negatively correlated with arithmetic skill in bilinguals. These results highlight that there are different relations between brain structure and arithmetic skills in bilinguals and monolinguals.

In conclusion the current study provides new evidence for differences between bilinguals’ and monolinguals’ brain networks engaged in arithmetic problem solving, even without any arithmetic task during the data acquisition. These findings based on functional connectivity and brain structure analyses also reveal the general involvement of language in arithmetic problem solving in bilingual as well as non-bilingual individuals.

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