Document Type : Articles


1 Ph.D. Cognitive Linguistics, Institute for Cognitive Science Studies, Tehran, Iran

2 Professor. Department of Psychiatry, Roozbeh Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences,Tehran, Iran



The study of the relationship between the brain and language learning has always been of interest to researchers in various sciences. This may be due to the multidimensional nature of language that influences other human activities. One of the issues that has been raised for a long time is how the brain can learn a language and what is the effect of language learning on the brain. In this study, we first refer to the classical view of the brain based on the concept of the immutability of the brain after passing through the sensitive and/or critical stage, and then the opposite view, Donald Hebb's view, which emphasizes the constant plasticity of the brain. In addition, by citing research using brain imaging technology in the field of second language learning, the idea that the brain does not change much after the sensitive period is challenged and the plasticity of the brain is emphasized. In this regard, the question is whether the brain does not change after passing through the sensitive period or whether the brain plasticity will continue throughout life and what is the role of language in this? The results indicate that the flexibility of the brain in language and non-linguistic learning does not depend on age, and the brain at any age has the ability to regenerate itself to some extent. As a result, the assumption of the classical view of the brain that there is a defining period in the flexibility of the brain is questioned.


Qasimzadeh, H.. (2010). "Heb Scientific Heritage”. Reflection of Knowledge: Journal of Cognition, Brain and Behavior, Vol.16. No. 4, pp 5-17.
Hayman, R. (2017). "An Introduction to the Nature and Process of Questioning in Psychological Research". Translated by Dr. Habibollah Qasemzadeh. Tehran: Arjmand Publications.
Abutalebi, J., Cappa, S. F., & Perani, D. (2005). "What can functional neuroimaging tell us about the bilingual brain?", In J. F. Kroll, & A. M. B. De Groot (Eds.), Handbook of bilingualism: Psycholinguistic approaches (pp. 497-515) New York: Oxford University Press.
 Abutalebi, J., Della Rosa, P. A., Green, D. W., Hernandez, M., Scifo, P., & Keim, R. (2012). "Bilingualism tunes the anterior cingulate cortex for conflict monitoring". Cerebral Cortex, 9, (22), 2076-2086.
Abutalebi, J., & Green, D. (2007). "Bilingual language production: the neurocognition of language representation and control". Journal of Neurolinguistics, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 242-275.
Baars, B. (2013). "Fundamentals of cognitive neuroscience". Boston: Academic press.
Blackburn, A.M. (2018). "The bilingual brain". In J. Altarriba & R.R. Heredia (Eds), An Introduction to bilingualism: Principles and processes. New York: Routledge. Pp.107-138.
Bradley, K. A. L. & Hernandez, A. E. (2012). "Neural correlates of imagery based second language word learning". Poster session presented at Neuroscience, the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting, New Orleans, LA.
Cooper, S. (2004). "Donald O. Hebb`s synapse and learning rule: a history and commentary." Neuroscience and behavioral reviews, No. 28, pp. 851-874.
Della Rosa, P. A., Videsott, G., Borsa, V. M., Canini, M., Weekes, B. S., Franceschini, R., et al. (2013). "A neural interactive location for multilingual talent". Cortex, Vol. 49. No. 2, pp. 605-608.
Draganski, B., Gaser, C., Busch, V., Schuierer, G., Bodgahn, U., & May, A. (2004). "Changes in grey matter induced by training". Nature, No. 427, pp. 311-312.
Grogan, A., Jones, _O. P., Ali, N., Crinion, J., Orabona, S., Mechias, M. L., et al. (2012). "Structural    correlates for lexical efficiency and number of languages in nonnative speakers of English." Neuropsychologia, Vol. 50. No. 7, pp. 1347-1352.
Grosjean, F., & Li, P. (2013). "The psycholinguistics of bilingualism". New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Gazzaniga, M. (2013). "The cognitive neuroscience". Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Ghassemzadeh, H., Posner, M., & Rothbart, M. (2013). "Contribution of Hebb and Vygotsky to an Integrated Science of Mind". Journal of the History of the Neurosciences: Basic and Clinical Perspective, DOI: 10.1080/0964704X.2012.761071   
Hernandez, A. E. (2013). "The bilingual brain". Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Hickok, G. (2009). "The functional neuroanatomy of language". Physics of Life Reviews, Vol. 3. No. 6, Pp.121-143.
Indefrey, P. (2006). "A metaanalysis of hemodynamic studies on first and second language processing: which suggested differences can we trust and what do they mean?", Language Learning, Vol. 56. No.1, pp. 279e304.
Kennedy, D., & Norman, C. (2005). "What don't we know?" Science, Vol. 309. No. 5731, pp. 78-102.
Lenneberg, E. (1967). "Biological foundations of language". New York: Wiley.
Li, P. (2014). "Bilingualism as a dynamic process". In B. MacWhinney, & W. O'Grady (Eds.), "Handbook of language emergence". John Wiley & Sons, Inc (in press.
Li, P., et al (2014). "Neuroplasticity as a function of second language learning: Anatomical changes in the human brain". Cortex, No. 58, pp. 301-324.
Maguire, E. A., Gadian, D. G., Johnsrude, I. S., Good, C. D., Ashburner, J., Frackowiak, R. S., et al. (2000). "Navigationrelated structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 97. No. 8, pp. 4398-4403.
Mårtensson, J., Eriksson, J., Bodammer, N. C., Lindgren, M., Johansson, M., Nyberg, L., et al. (2012). "Growth of languagerelated brain areas after foreign language learning". NeuroImage, Vol. 63, No. 1, pp. 240-244.
Mechelli, A., Crinion, J. T., Noppeney, U., O'Doherty, J. P., Ashburner, J., Frackowiak, R. S., et al. (2004). "Structural plasticity in the bilingual brain: proficiency in a second language and age at acquisition affect greymatter density". Nature, Vol. 431, No. 7010, pp. 757.
Poeppel, D., Emmorey, K., Hickok, G., & Pylkk€anen, L. (2012). "Towards a new neurobiology of language". The Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 32, No. 41, pp. 14125-14131.
Schlegel, A. A., Rudelson, J. J., & Tse, P. U. (2012). "White matter structure changes as adults learn a second language". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 24, No. 8, pp. 1664-1670.
Sebastián-Gallés, N., Soriano‐Mas, C., Baus, C., Díaz, B., Ressel, V., & Pallier, C. (2012). "Neuroanatomical markers of individual differences in native and nonnative vowel perception". Journal of Neurolinguistics, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 150-162.
Spartz, H. (1995). "Hebb`s concept of synaptic plasticity and neuronal cell assemblies". Behavioral brain research, No. 78,pp. 3-7.
Yang, J., Gates, K., Molenaar, P., & Li, P. (2014). "Neural changes underlying successful second language word learning: An fMRI study". Manuscript submitted for publication.
Zatorre, R. J., Fields, R. D., & Johansen‐Berg, H. (2012). "Plasticity in gray and white: neuroimaging changes in brain structure during learning". Nature Neuroscience, No. 4, pp. 528e536.