aphasia Deficits in language comprehension or production arising usually after left unilateral damage to the brain following stroke, degenerative disease, or trauma.

bilingual An individual who has knowledge of and regularly uses two languages, although the two languages need not be used in the same contexts or known to the same degree.

cerebral lateralization of function The extent to which particular cognitive skills (such as those underlying language) are functionally mediated more by the left or the right cerebral hemisphere.

crossed aphasia The occurrence of aphasic deficits following injury to the right hemisphere in right-handed individuals.

polyglot aphasia The occurrence of aphasic deficits in one or more languages of individuals who knew two or more languages prior to the brain injury.

Bilingualism has been the focus of a rapidly growing body of research in cognitive neuroscience. This overview summarizes conceptual, methodological, and interpretive issues relevant to understanding the literature on "the bilingual brain'' that spans more than 100

years, from early case reports of aphasia in bilinguals and polyglots to recent brain imaging studies of patterns of cortical activation in brain-intact bilinguals. An underlying issue in both the clinical and the experimental research has been to determine whether, or in what circumstances, there are distinct intra- and/ or interhemispheric neuropsychological correlates of acquiring and using two or more languages. Four potential sources of evidence on this issue are critically reviewed: (i) language recovery patterns in bilingual or polyglot aphasia, (ii) the incidence of crossed aphasia in bilinguals/polyglots vs monolinguals, (iii) the extent of right hemisphere involvement in language functioning in brain-intact bilinguals vs monolinguals, and (iv) findings from brain imaging studies of bilinguals regarding whether neural regions activated when processing each language are spatially overlapping or distinct. Evidence from each source is discussed in terms of how well it provides a test of the question of whether differential brain localization and/or lateralization can be attributed to knowing and using two languages.

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